Open science in the courtroom (and its role in criminal justice)

Fri 21 Sep 2018 3:00pm4:00pm


Room 201 - 204
Level 2, McElwain Building (#24A)
The University of Queensland
St Lucia

Followed by refreshments in the psychology courtyard.

Abstract: This research is being conducted in collaboration with David Mellor (Center for Open Science) and Bethany Growns (UNSW).

Both science and expert evidence law are undergoing significant changes. In this article, the authors compare these two movements – the open science movement and the evidence-based evidence movement. The open science movement is the recent discovery of many irreproducible findings in science and the subsequent move towards more transparent methods. The evidence-based evidence movement is the discovery that many forms of expert evidence are unreliable and that they have contributed to wrongful convictions. The authors identify many similarities between these movements, including misaligned incentives, cognitive bias, and too much weight accorded to eminence. These similarities suggest several ways in which expert evidence law may learn from the open science movement. Expert witnesses should comport themselves as rigorous open scientists. Parties should be subjected to more specific and rigorous disclosure requirements because research has shown that even leading scientists find it easy to discount and suppress findings that do not support their hypotheses. And trial judges, as gatekeepers, should not defer to the generally accepted practices that have proven insufficient in the mainstream sciences. The authors end with proposal for systemic reforms designed to further the ideal of open justice.

Bio: Jason Chin is a Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law.

Jason holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of British Columbia where he was a Killam Scholar and a JD from the University of Toronto. He graduated, cum laude, from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology and Economics.

Jason’s legal scholarship is guided by his background as a social psychologist. For example, in the area of evidence law, Jason researches the unconscious biases that regularly influence expert opinions. He is also deeply interested in how courts should react to issues concerning the reliability of science. His current work delves into how changing scientific practices and norms (e.g., the Open Science Movement) may guide factual decision making in courts. Jason’s research has drawn popular attention, and has been featured in the National Post and New York Times.