NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ875501
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0740-8404
People vs. Collins: Statistics as a Two-Edged Sword
McGivney-Burelle, Jean; McGivney, Katherine; McGivney, Ray
AMATYC Review, v28 n1 p22-30 Fall 2006
Real-life applications of the use (and misuse) of mathematics invariably pique students' interest. This article describes a legal case in California that occurred in the 1960s in which a couple was convicted of robbery, in part, based on the expert testimony of a statistics instructor. On appeal, the judge noted several mathematical errors in this testimony and overturned the conviction. In fact, he observed that at least one of the instructor's arguments actually pointed to the innocence of the accused couple. This article gives the details of the alleged crime itself, the main points of the instructor's testimony, and the judge's corrections. It ends with an interesting mathematical footnote from the judge, the details of which surprisingly involve an application of L'Hospital's Rule.
American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134. Tel: 901-333-4643; Fax: 901-333-4651; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California