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LEGAL DECISION MAKING: Antecedents of Wrongful Conviction

Part of reducing wrongful convictions is learning about why it occurs so we can develop research-based policy recommendations to increase just outcomes. In this line of research, we explore causes and consequences of wrongful convictions. In exploring causes, we have conducted research examining eyewitness identification, plea bargaining, alibi decision making, and the interplay of multiple causes of wrongful conviction, or forensic confirmation bias. In addition to examining causes of wrongful conviction, we also have explored consequences of wrongful conviction in researching effects of wrongful conviction on exonerees and their loved ones. 

LEGAL DECISION MAKING: how do juries make decisions?

In this line of research, we have focused on evaluating how jurors make decisions in various contexts, with the goal of helping jurors make the best possible decisions. We have explored how jurors process evidence such as confession evidence or expert testimony, testing how jurors perceive the evidence and mechanisms or procedural safeguards to help improve their comprehension. We have also explored how jurors make decisions in certain types of cases, such as juvenile waiver cases or sexual harassment cases, examining how the context and procedural aspects of the case affect decision making.  Last, we are interested in examining the group decision making process, integrating information from models of juror decision making with group process variables to understand the deliberation process. 


After exoneration, exonerees face a variety of barriers. In this line of work, we explore those consequences with an eye on understanding public perceptions of wrongful conviction and exonerees and outcomes of wrongful conviction from the perspectives of those most affected by it - the exonerees themselves. Ultimately, our goal is to break down barriers for exonerees in integrating back into society. 

REIGNITE YOUR 'why': Using psychological Science to increase the impact of psychological science 

As a research laboratory, our mission is aligned with the American Psychology-Law Society's mission to enhance “well-being, justice, and human rights through the science and practice of psychology in legal contexts.” The foundation of this effort is the science we conduct, however, to achieve our goal, or realize our 'why', we must work toward those broader impacts. Therefore, an integral part of our mission is science-translation, or effectively communicating our science to legal actors, policy makers, and the public. In this initiative, we work to bring science to our communities through a variety of mechanisms - mostly public speaking, writing, expert case evaluation, and projects designed to increase the accessibility of psychological science. 

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