Longbranch Research Associates

Statistical Analysis In Litigation

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In theory, experts are brought to court to shed light on areas in which lay knowledge is lacking. One such area is statistical analysis, the use of which has soared since the 1960s. Stephan Michelson was there, being the first to use (and create software for) multiple-pools analytic techniques, one of the first to use survival analysis as a tool for analyzing promotion, and possibly the first to enter a regression analysis as evidence in a federal district court. This is not a technical book, however. Nor is it a book of war stories. At the heart of this book lies the realization that courts are not organized to receive, comprehend, or utilize honest analyses from experts. This is not news to judges, who understand what experts are; who so expect experts to be corrupt that they are unable to discern when one is not. What is news to judges, in this book, is what to do about it. Michelson excoriates so-called experts for their biased and often incompetent charades. He establishes their lack of skill, the lack of expertise among “experts,” not as the point of the book, but as its premise. He then analyzes the forces operating on the system, finding—no surprise—that “truth” is not only not rewarded, but is structurally excluded. He goes on to propose a novel approach to the gatekeeping function imposed on judges by the federal rules and the 1993 Daubert Supreme Court decision (and its successors). This book is written for professionals, for social scientists and statisticians, attorneys and judges. It is not an easy read. Hundreds of cases, and hundreds of professional journal and law review articles, are discussed and used to derive or demonstrate principles important to the evaluation of experts. The grist for this mill includes history, theory, and practice. Ultimately, this book is meant to be more than a contribution to the discussion of “science” in court: It is the platform from which all future work in this field will start.