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Evidence and Proof, Sociology and Psychology of

Law is fundamentally a behavioral science. This is a reality seldom mentioned in law school, but one that becomes apparent when one first encounters the criminal law or deals with a jury. Virtually all criminal laws contain qualifying adverbs such as “intentional,” “wanton,” or “premeditated” because punishment for crime is severe enough to require proof that a perpetrator committed the act and had a requisite mental state during the act.

Similarly, decisions made by juries are influenced by subtle social and psychological forces that extend well beyond the facts of a given case and evolve over time and in response to cultural experience. Consideration of individual differences, the role of circumstance, and such factors as intoxicants extend back into prehistory and constantly shape the ongoing debate ...

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