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Law on Trial: uncovering the limits and potential of scientific evidence

Law, state violence, expert opinion and more will be scrutinised during a week of free legal lectures

Law, neuroscience, state violence, expert opinion and more will be scrutinised during a week of free legal lectures and discussions at Birkbeck.

The theme for this year’s series of Law on Trial activities, which take place from Monday 16 June to Friday 20 June, is scientific evidence.

All the evening events are organised by Birkbeck’s School of Law and take place at Birkbeck’s central London campus in Bloomsbury.

A week of talks and discussion

Birkbeck’s Professor Renata Salecl will deliver the opening lecture, entitled What’s on my mind? Law, neuroscience and psychoanalysis, on Monday 16 June. Professor Salecl is a leading scholar on the subject of psychoanalysis and law, and she has a long association with the critical legal studies movement.

A range of speakers, including academics from Birkbeck and elsewhere, and legal practitioners, will present their research and experiences at the remaining events throughout the week:

  • 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)
    Tuesday 17 June, Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
    Book your place

  • Forensic futures
    Panel: Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths), 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 Wednesday 18 June, Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
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  • State violence under the microscope
    Panel chairs: Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones and Dr Nadine El-Enany Examining unnatural selection of scientific evidence in deaths in custody and protest cases. 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.
    Thursday 19 June, Room B34, Malet Street, Birkbeck. Starts at 6.30pm
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  • 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?
    Friday 20 June, 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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Professor Patricia Tuitt is the Executive Dean of Birkbeck’s School of Law. She said: “I am looking forward to the fascinating series of lectures, which will explore the challenges and future orientation  of scientific evidence. Law on Trial is a perfect opportunity for prospective students and members of the legal profession to find out what Birkbeck can offer in terms of teaching and research.”