Profile Evidence, Fairness, and the Risks of Mistaken Convictions

Ethics 130 (2):147-178 (2020)
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Many oppose the use of profile evidence against defendants at trial, even when the statistical correlations are reliable and the jury is free from prejudice. The literature has struggled to justify this opposition. We argue that admitting profile evidence is objectionable because it violates what we call “equal protection”—that is, a right of innocent defendants not to be exposed to higher ex ante risks of mistaken conviction compared to other innocent defendants facing similar charges. We also show why admitting other forms of evidence, such as eyewitness, trace, and motive evidence, does not violate equal protection.

Author Profiles

Collin O'Neil
Lehman College (CUNY)
Marcello Di Bello
Arizona State University


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