Response or Comment
Center for Public Research and Leadership
In late March, a reporter called with news of a pirated copy of Professor Joseph Hoffinann's soon-to-be-published "attack" on our study, A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995. Did we care to comment? Obtaining our own copy revealed that Professor Hoffmann's fusillade missed its mark (he misstates what we did) and boomeranged (his mischaracterizations of our analysis accurately describe his own). We do care to comment, and Hoffmann and the Indiana Law Journal have graciously let us do so.
Hoffmann's main claim is that we "extrapolated" the 68% rate of reversible error we reported for capital verdicts reviewed during the twenty-three-year study period. We did no such thing. But he did. His 40% counterstatistic is an "extrapolation" in the purest sense, which proceeds from deflationary assumptions that are factually wrong.
Valerie West, Jeffery Fagan & James S. Liebman,
Look Who's Extrapolating: A Reply to Hoffmann,
Ind. L. J.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/294