Law on Trial 2014: 16 - 20 June 2014

Scientific Evidence

Monday 16 June 2014

Professor Renata Salecl Inaugural Lecure
What's on my mind? Law, neuroscience and psychoanalysis.

Why do some people internalize social prohibitions and others do not? Why is it that people relate so differently to law: some are oblivious of social prohibitions; others constantly feel guilty; still others claim they have committed crime when in reality they did not do anything wrong; and some even inflict punishment onto themselves. Clear differences emerge here between what classical Freudian psychoanalysis depicts as neurosis and what is known as psychosis or schizophrenia. Neuroscience, however, looks at the problem of people’s relationship towards the law from a different perspective since it primarily tries to address people’s attitude towards social prohibitions with the help of the analysis of the physical changes that happen in the individual's brain.

The lecture will first explore our current preoccupation/fascination with the discourse of neuroscience in the domain of law. Special attention will be given to the power of images of the brain, the fantasies that these images unleash in the observers and the role they play in court settings. Cases of brain damage and the problem of teenage brain development will also be addressed.

The lecture will then ask whether neuroscientific findings make psychoanalytic reasoning about law obsolete. In conclusion, the lecture will give various examples of how psychoanalysis can, on the one hand, help us understand our desire to see inside of the body (brain or genes, for example), and, on the other hand, offer an explanation for the new forms of transgressions which we observe in today’s society. Here, the lecture will look at some new forms of transgressions that have happened in the domain of the legal profession itself.

The acknowledgement will come from social anthropologist Professor Henrietta Louise Moore FBA, William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, and Head of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London (UCL), part of the Bartlett, UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment.

Clore Management Centre, Room B01, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm. Free drinks reception after the conference.
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Tuesday 17 June 2014

Justice and research evidence
Examining the use of research evidence to police rape cases.
Panel: Professor Betsy Stanko, Paul Turnbull and Harriet Wistrich (Birnberg Peirce & Partners).
Why Tell Law: There is great debate about why rape is so difficult to prosecute in England and Wales. It is very low compared to the increasing number of allegations being reported to the police. Just earlier this month the CPS and the Police published an action plan to improve their working relationship with the hope this would result in more convictions. This talk raises a number of key questions not only about the response of the criminal justice system to these rape complaints, but to the very heart of what rape ‘is’ as a criminal offence. Professor Betsy Stanko will give the main presentation which will be discussed by Harriet Wistrich and Paul Turnbull.
Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
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Wednesday 18 June 2014

Forensic futures
Panel: Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths), and Maja Petrović-Šteger(University of Cambridge and Stewart Motha (Birkbeck)
Forensics conjures the sense of a truth established by science in the service of the law. But the origin of 'forensic' in the Latin forensis - 'pertaining to the forum' - is more wide-ranging. Forensis invokes a site of negotiation between humans, technologies, and material things. This wider meaning opens the possibility of a forensic future where science and technology become the basis for holding states to account for mass violence and systematic neglect. Eyal Weizman and Maja Petrović-Šteger explore how new technologies, satellite imaging, landscapes, DNA, bones and human remains have emerged as material objects that 'speak and testify' to state crimes and mass violence. Their account of forensic architecture and the testimony of material objects point to the emergence of new forms of public truth.
Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
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Thursday 19 June 2014

State Violence Under the Microscope
Panel: Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones, Dr Nadine El-Enany, Dr Chris Cocking, Harmit Athwal.
This panel interrogates the way in which the state evades accountability for its violence through its selective exclusion and validation of scientific evidence in deaths in custody and protest cases. Athwal discusses the use and misuse of scientific evidence in UK death in custody cases, while Bruce-Jones examines the process by which prosecutors and judges in Germany have used legal proclamations to pre-empt scientific evidentiary analysis. El-Enany and Cocking will ask what crowd psychology can contribute to our understanding of the behaviour of protesters at demonstrations and public order policing.
Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
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Friday 20 June 2014

The Power of Experts
Chair: Dr. Marinos Diamantides, Reader, School of Law, Birkbeck College Participants: Dr. Matjaž Ambrož, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana Dr. Amanda Dickins, Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, Dept. for Business Innovation and Skills Dr. Mary Malecka, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers and Bond Solon Legal Training Company Prof. Renata Salecl, Professor of Psychology and Law, School of Law, Birkbeck College Experts are the new authorities in today's society. Law and policy makers rely on their knowledge when difficult decisions are made. The panel will address the dilemmas like: What happens when experts openly admit that they do not know? What can be done when they knowingly give fraudulent testimony? How do policy makers choose which experts to call upon? How does judiciary system handle experts, how are they prepared for giving testimony and what kind of battles they might engage in when presented with different expertise? Who wins in the war of experts? Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck, London WC1E 7HX Starts at 6.30pm. Free drinks reception to close Law on Trial 2014, after this final panel.
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