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Top researcher joins faculty
Law, business schools share professor 50/50
Professor Jay Koehler
A prominent researcher of how police, attorneys and other legal fact finders process scientific evidence andhow investors make financial decisions has joined the faculties of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and the W.P. Carey School of Business.
Jonathan "Jay" Koehler, who holds the first, full joint faculty appointment at Arizona State University in the law and business schools, previously was a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, in the McCombs School of Business. He also was named the Outstanding Business Honors Program Professor four times, and had a one-quarter appointment at the UT Law School for several years.
"I really feel like I'm in both schools at ASU, because this is a much more formal arrangement than I had at Texas," said Koehler, who teaches a seminar in Probability and Science in the Courtroom and hopes to become more involved in the College's Law and Psychology graduate program.
Specifically, he is interested in teaching a class about legal decision making, which would emphasize the role of cognitive psychology in the law. It's a natural fit for Koehler, a former visiting scholar in the psychology departments at both Harvard University and Stanford University, and at Stanford Law School.
"This type of class would fit well with my background in behavioral decision theory and research interests in how jurors think," said Koehler, who also teaches business statistics in the Department of Finance at W.P. Carey.
At the law school, he joins Regents Professor David Kaye, who has joint appointments in the law school and in the ASU School of Life Sciences, and is ranked by Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings as the seventh most-cited scholar of evidence, and Professor Michael Saks, who has affiliations with both the law school and the ASU Department of Psychology, and is the fourth most-cited by scholar in law and social science by Leiter's rankings Web site. Koehler, Kaye and Saks are all associated with the College of Law's Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology.
"The addition of Jay Koehler to the College of Law strengthens one of the country's leading groups doing research at the intersection of law, statistics, forensic science and related empirical research," Saks said. "His research has been cited in numerous judicial opinions, and in 1995, his research won the Loevinger Prize awarded by the
Koehler, who has published papers with both Kaye and Saks, has received many research grants and has written extensively about forensic science evidence. He is currently finishing a paper about error rates and proficiency tests in fingerprint examination. It proposes that jurors need to understand the accuracy of reported fingerprint matches, and argues that high-quality tests should be given to fingerprint examiners on a regular basis. Koehler will present the paper at a symposium, "Faces of Forensics: Identification and Behavior," on March 21 at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
Another of Koehler's recent research projects focuses on why people invest in products like Initial Public Offerings, which historically do poorly. "Why do people invest? The answer financial people always give is to make money," he said. "But people also get a non-monetary utility out of their investments - it's cool to invest in Google, and it gives you bragging rights around the water cooler."
Koehler is on the editorial board of the
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
, and served as a guest editor for its recent special issue, "Decision Making and the Law." Since 2005, he has been an editor of
Law, Probability, and Risk
, and a consulting editor for
Judgment and Decision Making
Koehler has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Pomona College, and both a master's degree and a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Chicago. His wife, Molly Mercer, is an associate professor in the School of Accountancy at W.P. Carey and a collaborator on his financial research projects. They have a two-year-old daughter.