SCIE 622
Psychology and the Law

Sarah Carney

Course Description

This course explores how psychology applies to the American judicial process.  By studying cases and research coming from the various psychological schools of thought—clinical, cognitive, social, and biological psychology we will explore topics such as the reliability of eyewitness memory, the use of child testimony, the processes involved in determining competency to stand trial, the use of the insanity defense, jury decision making and reform, the psychological impact of incarceration and death penalty mitigation.  How does psychology address these topics?  How does this differ from the legal applications of psychological theory—behind the scenes (using “scientific jury selection”) and in the courtroom?  The goals of this course are twofold:  first, to show how psychological research can illuminate and enhance our understanding of the judicial process itself, and second, to show how psychological research can be used/is being used to open up our understandings about social justice for all.

Required Reading

Readings will include psychological and legal case studies and original research, as well as selected Supreme Court decisions.  Students will be encouraged to explore the connections between issues of social science and the law, translating legal issues into social scientific research questions which can then be examined more closely in the literature. 

Course Requirements

To enhance class discussion, and to help you learn to think critically about what you are reading, you will be required (dates specified in the syllabus) to turn in weekly “reaction” papers.  These are expected to be informal (yet well written) commentaries that recognize and integrate themes across the readings, films, and class discussions; and they highlight areas of interest and concern.  Again, quality is more important than quantity.  It is possible for these papers to be relatively brief and yet very thoughtful analyses.   Some of you will accomplish this in 1-2 pages.  Others will write much more.  What I am looking for is for you to take a step back from the readings—adopt a wider gaze—and think critically and thoughtfully about the implications of the work, the ways in which you see the research working currently, and concerns that you might have had while you were reading.  These papers are NOT book reports; do not merely repeat material from the text, ask the same questions listed before each chapter, or simply agree or disagree.  They are due each Friday, and can be turned in via email or placed in my box in Judd Hall.   

At the end of the session I will be asking you to reflect over the past six weeks and then develop a research question and rationalize its importance.  For your final paper you will create an introduction to a “problem”, clearly define your own (researchable) question, and then discuss the reasons it is an important one to ask as well as the implications of the work you are proposing. Though page numbers are always somewhat hazy, I think a good guideline for the length of this paper to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-8 pages.  You are welcome, even strenuously encouraged, to meet with me individually so that I can help you narrow down your question.  I am always available during office hours, by appointment, and by email to discuss your progress with you.

Course Schedule
June 25

Course introduction:  What is Psychology and the Law?  Legality, Morality, Justice and Responsibility. 

Brigham, J. C. (1999).  What is forensic psychology anyway?  Law and Human Behavior, 23 (3), 273-298. 

Fox, D. (1993).  Psychological jurisprudence and radical social change.  American Psychologist, 48 (3), 234-241. 

Haney, C. (1993).  Psychology and legal change: the impact of a decade.  Law and Human Behavior, 17 (4), 371-398.

June 27

Eyewitness Testimony:  Elizabeth Loftus, Perception, and Memory 

Loftus, E. (1979).  Mistaken Identification.  Eyewitness Testimony.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Loftus, E. (1979).  Perceiving Events.  Eyewitness Testimony.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Loftus, E. (1979).  Retrieving Information from Memory. Eyewitness Testimony.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

June 29 First Reaction Paper Due
July 2

Children as Eyewitnesses:  State of New Jersey v. Margaret Kelly Michaels. 

Rosenthal, R. (1995).  State of New Jersey v. Margaret Kelly Michaels:  An overview.  Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1 (2), 246-271. 

Bruck, M. & Ceci, S. (1995).  Amicus brief for the case of state of New Jersey v. Margaret Kelly Michaels presented by a committee of concerned social scientists.  Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1 (2), 272-322. 

Film:  Hungry for Monsters

July 4 No Class
July 6 Second Reaction Paper Due
July 9

“Capturing the Friedmans.”  Children as eyewitnesses continued…  

McGough, L. (1994).  The Child Witness Revolution.  Child Witnesses:  Fragile Voices in the American Legal System.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press. 

King, M. & Yuille, J. (1987). Suggestibility and the Child Witness.  In S. Ceci, M. Toglia, & D. Ross (eds.)  Children’s Eyewitness Memory.  New York, NY:  Springer-Verlag. 

Brannon, C. (1994).  The Trauma of Testifying in Court for Child Victims of Sexual Assault v. the Accused’s Rights to Confrontation. Law and Society Review, 18, 439-460.

July 11

Competencey to Stand Trial 

Roesch, R. & Golding, S. (1980).  Competency Standards.  Competency to Stand Trial.  Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. 

Arrigo, B. & Tosca, J. (1999).  Right to refuse treatment, competency to be executed, and therapeutic jurisprudence: toward a systemic analysis.  Law and Psychology Review, 23, 1-47. 

July 13 Third Reaction Paper Due
July 16

The Insanity Defense:  The Case of Andrea Yates                       

Spinelli, M. (2004).  Maternal infanticide associated with mental illness: prevention and the promise of saved lives.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(9), 1548-1557. 

McFarlane, J. (2003).  Criminal defense in cases of infanticide and neonaticide.  In M. Spinelli (ed.) Infanticide:  Psychosocial and Legal Perspectives on Mothers Who Kill.  Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.

July 18

The Trial Process:  Juries 

Wrightsman: Chapter 11, pp. 302-327. 

Film:  12 Angry Men

July 20 Fourth Reaction Paper Due
July 23

The Trial Process—Expert Witnesses and Trial Consulting 

Toobin, J. (1996b, September 9).  The Marcia Clark Verdict.  The New Yorker, pp. 58-71. 

Strier, F. (1999).  Whither trial consulting?  Issues and projections.  Law and Human Behavior, 23 (1), 93-115.

July 25

Prisons and Prison Reform 

Austin, J. & Irwin, J. (2001).  Supermax.  It’s About Time:  America’s Imprisonment Binge.  Canada: Wadsworth Thompson Learning.  

Fine, M., Torre, M., Boudin, K., Bowen, I., Clark, J., Hylton, D., Martinez, M., “Missy”, Roberts, R., Smart, P., & Upegui, D. (2001).  Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a Maximum Security Prison. 

July 27 Fifth Reaction Paper Due
July 30

The Death Penalty in America/Death Penalty Mitigation in CT 

Bedau, H. (1997).  Furman v. Georgia, 1972:  The Death Penalty as Administered is Unconstitutional.  In H. Bedau (ed.) The Death Penalty in America:  Current Controversies.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.  

Bedau, H. (1997).  Gregg v. Georgia, 1976:  The Death Penalty is not per se unconstitutional.  In H. Bedau (ed.) The Death Penalty in America:  Current Controversies.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.  

Haney, C. (1994).  Psychological secrecy and the death penalty: observations on the “mere extinguishment of life.”  Studies in Law, Politics and Society, 16, 3-69. 

August 1

The Death Penalty in CT continued.  Film:  “The Exonerated” 

Film, “After Innocence” 

Haney, C. (2005).  Frameworks of misunderstanding: capital punishment and the American media.  Death By Design: Capital Punishment as a Social Psychological System.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

August 6

Research Presentations/Proposals

Final Paper Due

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