4 February 2015
Research Article Review “Twenty-Five Years of Social Science in Law” by John Monahan and Lauren Walker, reflects on the changes and continuities that have occurred with the application of social sciences to American law. The authors compare and contrast the original book to the current one to see if there have been substantial changes or if law and social science has stayed constant. In the first edition the organization of legal and social science materials was attempted. However, it was found that the sequential organization was not found to be affective. In the second edition methods were improved and found that there were 3 foundations of social science in law which are social fact, social authority, and social framework. This organization has not changed social science in law.
The origins of social science began legal realism, which contains two parts. The first focused on how judges were faced with inevitable policy choice where the law could be interpreted in two or more reasonable ways. This branch has long been dominant in legal realism. The second branch is personality oriented which focuses on the effects of a judge’s personality and background towards their legal decisions. From two studies concerning a judge’s decision making, it was found that their partisan affiliation is likely to affect the votes of colleagues. Race however, has been found to have more of an influence than the partisan affiliation. For instance the authors explain how African-American judges vote in favor of liability under the Voting Rights Act half of the time as opposed to non-African American judges. Despite evidence judges go to great lengths to deny it. One thing that has changed drastically is how the law deals with the social science methodology. The US Supreme Court has regulated an introduction of scientific evidence in court. A judge is now responsible for evaluating research methods and expert