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15 Law & Hum. Behav. 1 (1991)

handle is hein.journals/lwhmbv15 and id is 1 raw text is: Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 15, No. 1, 1991

Social Science and the Courts
The Role of Amicus Curiae Briefs*
Ronald Roesch,t Stephen L. Golding,*
Valerie P. Hans, § and N. Dickon Reppucci¶
Social scientists have increasingly become involved in the submission of amicus curiae or friend of
the court briefs in legal cases being decided by state and federal courts. This increase has triggered
considerable debate about the use of briefs to communicate relevant social science research. This
article evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of various methods of summarizing social science
research for the courts. It also reviews the procedures for submitting briefs developed by the American
Psychology-Law Society which, in collaboration with the American Psychological Association, has
submitted its first brief in Maryland v. Craig, a case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Social scientists have become increasingly involved in the submission of amicus
curiae or friend of the court briefs to the courts (Acker, 1990; Tremper, 1987).
Such briefs summarize research relevant to a particular legal case, describing
implications for legal issues before a court. Social science briefs have been sub-
mitted in a number of recent cases, including those on the death penalty (Lockhart
v. McCree, 1986; Bersoff, 1987), gay rights (Watkins v. United States Army, 1988;
Melton, 1989), abortion (Thornburgh v. American College of Physician and Sur-
geons, 1986; Interdivisional Committee on Adolescent Abortion, 1987), jury size
(Ballew v. Georgia, 1978; Tanke & Tanke, 1979), prediction of dangerousness
* Requests for reprints and other correspondence should be sent to Ronald Roesch, 936 Peace Portal
Drive, P.O. Box 8014-153, Blaine, Washington, 98230. The authors wish to thank James Ogloff,
Kathy Roesch, and Claudia Worrell for their comments on an earlier draft.
t Simon Fraser University.
$ University of Utah.
§ University of Delaware.
I University of Virginia.

0147-7307/91/0200-0001$06.50/0 © 1991 Plenum Publishing Corporation

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