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Bowen professor breaks into top 10 for academic paper on other Manson

Submitted by Liz Fox on February 28, 2013 – 12:17 pmNo Comment

A UALR William H. Bowen School of Law professor has made the top-ten-most-downloaded list on the Social Science Research Network, according to a university news release.

Nicholas Kahn-Fogel, an assistant professor at Bowen, wrote a paper titled “Manson and its Progeny: An Empirical Analysis of Eyewitness Law,” a thesis detailing misidentification flaws in eyewitness court cases. Though it was published in 2011, it recently climbed to the top of the SSRN’s number of downloads in the Empirical Studies and Criminal Procedure eJournal categories.

“I’m really pleased to see that people have been reading the article,” Kahn-Fogel said. “Reform of eyewitness identification law would lessen the likelihood of conviction of innocent people.”

The paper centers on Manson v. Brathwaite, a 1977 court case that set the standard for admissibility of eyewitness evidence. But while the central thesis remarks on eyewitness law disputes, it also offers plausible solutions based on errors in landmark cases. These, which mostly concern DNA and other concrete or scientific matters, may help reform current eyewitness law and exonerate those wrongfully convicted due to a lack of evidence.

“Every year, more exonerations demonstrate that eyewitness misidentification remains the most common cause of wrongful conviction,” Kahn-Fogel said. “We cannot forgive courts that willfully turn blind eyes to scientific discoveries capable of reducing wrongful convictions and freeing those facing wrongful imprisonment by the state, a nightmare beyond comprehension for those of us lucky enough not to have endured it.”

He first became interested in eyewitness law as a student at Standford Law School, but his passion was truly enhanced by his work with the Innocence Project, which describes itself as a “national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people.”

Kahn-Fogel, who hails from Baton Rouge, La., joined the Bowen faculty in 2008 as a visiting professor. Prior to teaching full-time, he taught at the University of Zambia School of Law in Africa and returned to Bowen as a researcher in 2010. He’s served on the editorial board for the Zambia Law Journal and currently offers courses in business associations, contracts, torts and sales. In addition to “Manson,” he has also authored additional papers on the subject of eyewitness law.

“I love teaching, and I love researching and writing about the topics I find interesting and important,” Kahn-Fogel said. “For me, this is the perfect job.”


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