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Probability, Nike Trainers, and Murder: English Court Case Bars Bayes and Raises Ruckus

Last year at about this time the Court of Appeal for England and Wales overturned the conviction of one T (R. v. T. [2010] EWCA Crim 2439) on the charge of murder. It was an identification issue and a critical element in linking the defendant to the crime had to do with a shoeprint left at the scene. The judgment is heavily redacted, reminiscent of some grudging government compliance with a FOI order; nevertheless, it’s clear that shoes found at the defendant’s house had soles that matched the patterns found at the scene of the crime. The important . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

An Excursis Into Bayes’ Theorem… More or Less

[I]f a rare event (10/1000) is reported by a very reliable witness (80/100), the chances that the rare event happened is closer to its base rate (10/1000) than the accuracy of the reliable witness (80/100)
Psychology of Compliance & Due Diligence Law: “What does a 18th Century Philosopher have to Offer the 21st?

I didn’t do well with statistics in university. Didn’t do it at all, really. Which is my loss, because now probability fascinates me: it’s the next frontier for reason for most of us.As has been discussed a fair bit lately, thanks to potential catastrophes . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Quantifying the Value of Legal Information

[Download the accompanying spreadsheet here]

Quantifying the value of legal information is difficult: the most valuable commodity in a law firm is the knowledge in the minds of the people who work there, and in the written information firms produce and acquire that elucidates their work. In the event of a bankruptcy, it’s possible that the only assets left to settle debts is the art on the walls, because the value can’t be recovered from the people’s heads when they leave — I always look at the art in law firms. The value of this information is more . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Cross Examining the Artificial Intelligence

As much as I’m an enthusiast for technology, including artificial intelligence, I find that my energies are far more productive discussing the limitations, challenges, and pitfalls of blinding embracing technology in law. It’s only through these discussions that we can use the technology intelligently.

Most of the use of artificial intelligence to this date has been in developing predictive techniques in law, but the possibilities of this technology is only beginning to be explored. Although copyright law may pose some barriers to AI development, machine learning could also be the key to better data security.

The applications in . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Technology

Thursday Thinkpiece: Findlay and Chalifour on Probability

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Science Manual for Canadian Judges
National Judicial Institute / Institut national de la magistrature / Chapter 2: Scott Findlay and Nathalie Chalifour. “Science and the Scientific Method”
Ottawa: National Judicial Institute, 2013

© National Judicial Institute 2013. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce is granted for the purposes of research or private study. . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

If the Mouse Roared, Then the Court Whimpered

Mark Twain wrote in Mark Twain, “Chapters from My Autobiography”, 598 North American Review (Sept. 7, 1906):

I wrote the rest of “The Innocents Abroad” in sixty days, and I could have added a fortnight’s labor with the pen and gotten along without the letters altogether. I was very young in those days, exceedingly young, marvellously young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years. I worked every night from eleven or twelve until broad day in the morning, and as I did two hundred thousand words in the sixty days,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law