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date: 25 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews contemporary response to several contrasting strands of recent empirical work. It begins with discussing the scope and rationale of evidence law. Experimental studies on eyewitness memory and testimony illustrate the potential value of empirical studies to the practice of investigations, prosecutions, and appeals. This article discusses several lines of empirical inquiry employing diverse methodologies, experiments, surveys, and approaches and reviews their limitations, and implications and significance for the understanding and practice of law. Many of the contributions from empirical legal studies are provisional and their precise value for practice is uncertain or ambiguous, but they raise important issues worthy of serious consideration. By identifying problems with eyewitness evidence and the limitations of many of the forensic sciences, and in many other ways, empirical and experimental studies have substantially outpaced legal experience. Indifference to empirical legal study is likely to reduce the social legitimacy of legal institutions.

Keywords: evidence law, testimony, investigations, prosecutions, appeals, law, empirical legal studies, eyewitness evidence, legal institutions

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