A Project of the University of Michigan Law School and the MDefenders Program

Motion arguing against suspicionless marijuana testing as a condition of pretrial release

This motion argues that, because the routine imposition of marijuana testing as a condition of release is at odds with the current legal, social, and scientific understanding about the risks posed by marijuana use, courts should exercise discretion and not impose a marijuana testing requirement as a pretrial condition of release unless there are specific reasons, beyond mere past […]

Motion section arguing that an adolescent client’s history of exposure to trauma is a factor in the voluntariness analysis that should lead to suppression of a confession

This draft motion section relies on psychological and neuroscientific research to argue that young people who have been exposed to trauma behave differently when interrogated and are more likely to give false, unreliable, and involuntary confessions such that past exposure to trauma should be an important factor in the voluntariness analysis. Pages 2-3:  Youth with […]

Expert Reports on Low Rates of Sex Offense Recidivism and the Counterproductive Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) Requirements on Public Safety, Deterrence, and Recidivism

The ACLU of Michigan included these reports as exhibits in its recent litigation attacking the constitutionality of Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA). Does v. Whitmer (Does III), No. 22-cv-10209 (E.D. Mich.). The research cited in these reports — specifically on the low risk of recidivism among people convicted of sexual offenses and the counterproductive impact […]

Amicus brief (a) explaining why Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT) diagnoses are not legitimate, (b) discussing the importance of biomechanical engineering experts in debunking the validity of SBS/AHT, and (c) collecting research about the causes of false confessions and forensic confirmation biases

Pg. 13 – noting that there is no reliable scientific study validating the hypothesis that shaking alone can cause bleeding in the brain and eyes and neurological impairment; accidents can cause these symptoms Pg. 14 – discussing thirty documented exonerations of innocent people wrongfully convicted based on shaken baby syndrome (and in 13% of those […]

Motion to Exclude Ballistics Expert Evidence

This brief follows an extensive Frye hearing on bullet matching evidence and incorporates extensive criticism from the scientific community, an explanation of the unintended impact that a narrow definition of the “relevant scientific community” can have, and evidence of the ways that cognitive bias impermissibly taint pattern-matching evidence.

Amicus Brief to Exclude Drug Recognition Expert

Pages 1-4 discuss the history and development of the DRE program; pages 6-10 explain how the DRE test fails Rule of Evidence 702 because it does not assist the trier of fact to understand a fact in issue and the officers who testify about it are not qualified in the relevant field of knowledge; and […]