Professor Lisa Kern Griffin’s article, “Stories in Adjudication,” has won the Association of American Law School’s (AALS) Criminal Justice Section’s award for the best paper by a junior scholar. The award will be presented at the AALS annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in early January.
Griffin’s article, which is currently in manuscript form, examines the relationship between narrative theory and factual accuracy at trials. She draws on insights from cognitive psychology, epistemology, and linguistics to critique the prevailing “story model” of juror decision-making and then considers ways in which trial design might counterweigh the power of familiar stories. “Viewing trials through the lens of narrative theory brings sources of bias and error into focus and suggests increasing the influence of analytic processes,” Griffin writes in the abstract. The potential improvements she explores concern expanding discovery obligations, reframing standards of review, and “using limiting instructions to better inform how adjudicators respond to narrative in the courtroom.”