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Cognitive Bias in Forensic Science and the Courtroom
August 4 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pmFree
Live webinar presented by James Williams, Dr. Jeff Kukucka, and Emily Coward Aug. 4, 2022, 12:30 pm 90 min of CLE credit anticipated
Description: This program will examine several ways that race affects forensic evidence. Presenters will discuss the racist or colonial roots of some of the forensic sciences, how racism manifests in some current forensic methods, and advocacy strategies for challenging racism in forensics and bias in the courtroom.
Presenters will address how unconscious bias affects various aspects of the criminal justice system, including the testing of forensic evidence, jury decision-making, and the work of criminal defense teams. Presenters will provide a background in the science of unconscious bias and discuss practical strategies for sharing this information with jurors in order to obtain better outcomes for clients.
Registration: This program is part of the 2022 IDS Forensic Science Education Series. The webinars will be presented monthly and are free to attend. Attorneys who want CLE credit for attending will be billed $3.50 per credit hour by the State Bar. Use this link to register for all webinars in the series and attend any that are of interest.
James E. Williams, Jr., J.D. Mr. Williams received a B.A. in Political Science and J.D. from Duke University. He was Chief Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties from 1990-2017 and previously the Felony Chief of the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office. While a member of the N.C. Advocates for Justice Board of Governors, Mr. Williams helped establish and served as Chair of the Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Criminal Justice System which ultimately led to the establishment of the NC CRED. Mr. Williams is also a founder and Board member of the N.C. Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity and serves on numerous boards, including the N.C. Fines and Fees Coalition, National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, N.C. Association of Black Lawyers, Orange Bias Free Policing Coalition. He serves as Co-chair of the District 18 Bar Racial Justice Force. He has received numerous awards, including the N.C. Advocates for Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, the MLK University/ Community Planning Inc. MLK Jr. Citizenship Award, the N.C. ACLU Champion of Justice Award, and the North Carolina Bar Association James McNeil Smith Jr. Award.
Jeff Kukucka, Ph.D. Dr. Kukucka is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Law at Towson University in Maryland, and Vice Chair of the OSAC for Forensic Science, Human Factors Task Group. His primary line of research examines the causes of, and solutions for, cognitive bias in forensic science judgments, as well as how non-experts understand forensic evidence. He also regularly works as an expert witness on these issues.
In 2009, he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Loyola College in Maryland. As an undergrad, he became involved in research on conformity and eyewitness memory with Dr. Kerri Goodwin (Towson University) and research on child forensic interviewing and metacognition with Dr. Maggie Bruck (Johns Hopkins University). In 2014, he graduated from the PhD Program in Psychology & Law at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he worked under Dr. Saul Kassin (John Jay College of Criminal Justice).
Emily Coward, J.D. Emily Coward joined the Decarceration Project as Policy Director in December 2021 and will be joining Duke Law as Director of the new Inclusive Juries Project in August 2022. From 2012 to 2021, she was a member of the UNC School of Government’s Public Defense Education group, serving as Director and Project Attorney of the NC Racial Equity Network. She received the UNC School of Government Margaret Taylor Writing Award in 2015 for co-authoring Raising Issues of Race in North Carolina Criminal Cases and the James E. Williams award in 2016 from the North Carolina Public Defenders Association. From 2009 to 2011, she represented clients in civil and post-conviction matters as an attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services. Ms. Coward served as a law clerk for Judge James Robertson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and for Justice Thembile Skweyiya of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. She earned a BA from Oberlin College and a JD magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law. Ms. Coward currently serves as Chair of the Data, Study, and Evaluation Team of the NC Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, a Commissioner on the NC Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, and is a member of the