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Evidence-Based Decisions for Policy: The Case of Eye-Witness Identification

November 9, 2015 @ 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Law and Society Speaker Series

Co-sponsored by the Law and Society Association and the S.J. Quinney College of Law

Monday, November 9, 2015

JoanneYaffe12:15 – 1:15 p.m., S.J. Quinney College of Law, Flynn Faculty Scholarship Room (6500)

RSVP to Kris Monty

Joanne Yaffe
Professor, College of Social Work, Univeristy of Utah
Joanne Yaffe has a PhD in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan. She is a Professor of Social Work and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah. Her areas of Research and Teaching include:  evidence-based practice and policy, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, intervention research, program evaluation, research-based decision-making, and scholarly communication.

Summary of presentation

  • Explain the relevance of the Evidence-Based Practice model, as developed in Medicine, for policy decisions.
  • Provide some examples of how the model has been applied via the Campbell Collaboration.
  • Discuss some places where the model may become “lost in translation” if researchers and decision-makers do not remain mindful of differing assumptions and epistemologies.

Background for presentation

In late 2013, Joanne Yaffe was appointed to a committee by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to study eyewitness identification procedures and develop recommendations about their use in law enforcement and the courts.  Comprised of legal scholars, law professionals, and social scientists, the ad hoc committee examined the literature and heard testimony concerning the validity of eyewitness identification and worked to synthesize what is known about factors affecting its accuracy. The committee learned very quickly that members of the social science and legal communities interpret “evidence” in fundamentally different ways and it was necessary to identify and explain our assumptions carefully in order to proceed.

Their deliberations resulted in publication of Identifying the culprit: Assessing eyewitness identification (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/stl/Eyewitness_ID/index.htm), which has prompted reconsideration and revision of eyewitness identification procedures in several jurisdictions. We hope our work will improve the validity of eyewitness identification and reduce the number of convictions based on mistaken identifications.

Lunch provided. 1 hour of CLE (pending).


Upcoming Law & Society Speaker Series Dates
February 17, 2016 – Ethics in Crises and Disasters, Lina Svedin
April 7, 2016 – A Faustian Bargain? The Role of Debt in Law Students’ Career Choices, Carroll Seron



November 9, 2015
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
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S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States
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