American Judges Association


Date of this Version

Winter 2007


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 43:4. Copyright © 2007 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


Since the first glimmerings of legal realism early in this century, American courts have been remarkably open to using social science research when that research could help resolve empirical issues that arise in litigation. Increasingly in recent decades, courts have sought out research data on their own when the parties have failed to provide them. Social scientists, for their part, are investigating questions of judicial interest at an accelerating pace. In this article, we examine the three principal uses that courts have found for social science research. For each use, we review early and current approaches to dealing with social science in court. We conclude by offering judges a step-by-step guide to incorporating social science research in cases that call for a determination of empirical issues.

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