Grits For breakfast had an interesting link to a study done on cognitive bias; psychologists were hired to give their opinion on the likelihood that certain defendants, accused of sex crimes, would re-offend. Those that were told they were being paid by the prosecutors tended to assess them at a higher risk; those told the defense had hired them assessed at a lower rate.
It would be fascinating to see how these numbers match up to known recidivism rates of those convicted of sex crimes, but none of the articles available seem to go into that much depth. It was a small study, but it underscores what common sense indicates; that objectivity is subjective. Since both the defense and the prosecution are going to generate a bias in their experts, that they would be evenly matched, but only if you ignore the basically limitless resources of the State pitted against one individual.
The Prosecutors are not spending their own money; their lives and earning ability are not disrupted by criminal charges; they’re presenting cases to judges who, generally speaking, were prosecutors at one time as well, in front of a jury that’s likely to hold those involved in the justice system in a position of sainted reverence.
It would be interesting to know the degree of this cognitive bias in individuals who are regularly involved with prosecution; does the bias against the opposing side grow with prolonged association? Fiona Stephenson springs instantly to mind, the social worker who assessed the child in Coy vs. Texas; in an article about the Children’s Assessment Center way back in 1998 she stated,
"...it affects their adult lives forever -their marriages, personality disorders, alcohol and drug abuse. When you hear about somebody that’s got multiple problems, you can always count on the fact they’ve been sexually abused..."
"...There are days you feel everyone in the world is doing this to their kids. You have to remember that we're here and we're helping."