On the Supposed Expertise of Judges in Evaluating Evidence

From way down in the dirty depths, where those of us who collect empirical data dwell unobserved and largely ignored by most legal academics, it is refreshing to hear a call for “more data” from legal scholars such as Fred Schauer. In asking whether it makes sense to follow the existing trend of discarding much of evidence law when judges—rather than juries—are the fact-finders at trial, he notes that the empirical literature involving judges’ reasoning is sparse and the literature comparing judges with jurors is even sparser. In order to determine whether judges are better than jurors at weighting evidence and fact-finding, as many appear to believe, he wishes for more and more focused research.

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