Barbara Spellman

The Psychological Foundations of Evidence Law

CO-AUTHORS Michael J. Saks
NYU Press

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations

Barbara A. Spellman


The rules of evidence have evolved to restrain lawyers from using the most robust weapons of influence, and to direct judges to exclude certain categories of information, limit it, or instruct juries on how to think about it. Evidence law regulates the form of questions lawyers may ask, filters expert testimony, requires witnesses to take oaths, and aims to give lawyers and factfinders the tools they need to assess witnesses' reliability. But without a thorough grounding in psychology, is the 'common sense' of the rulemakers as they create these rules always, or even usually, correct? And when it is not, how can these rules be fixed. Addressed to those in both law and psychology, The Psychological Foundations of Evidence Law draws on the best current psychological research-based knowledge to identify and evaluate the choices implicit in the rules of evidence, and to suggest alternatives that psychology reveals as better for accomplishing the law's goals.


Michael J. Saks & Barbara A. Spellman, The Psychological Foundations of Evidence Law, NYU Press (2016).

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