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Research Assistants

Probability and Justice

Most justice systems have a high standard of proof in criminal cases. This dates back to the writing of William Blackstone in the 1760s "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." Today, the common standard of proof in criminal cases is that the defendant should be proven guilty "beyond reasonable doubt".

Arguably, such a standard of proof implicitly prescribes a probability threshold of guilt given the evidence. This project will explore elements of this and how it is applied. Among the tasks will be:

  1. Explore uses of standard of proof in criminal cases and make comparisons across countries. This will include creating an overview of data sources.
  2. Collect detailed information and data for selected criminal cases where the use of probability analysis has been central. This will include cases that have created controversy, the best known example being the case of Sally Clark. This will include exploring data sources such as court documents and various sources of evidence.
  3. Survey academic literature on the topic.

Requisite Skills and Qualifications

Good general knowledge of relevant fields such as legal systems, probability and statistics, and medical science. Experience with a coding language for data analytics such as Julia, R or Python is preferred.

Be systematic and organized.