Vidmar honored by Law and Society Association for body of empirical scholarship

June 27, 2017Duke Law News

Neil VidmarProfessor Neil Vidmar

Neil Vidmar, the Russell M. Robinson II Professor Emeritus of Law, was honored in June by the Law and Society Association for his body of empirical scholarship.

Vidmar received the association’s 2017 Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize for Outstanding Scholarship in Law and Society at its annual meeting, which was held in Mexico City. The award cited work by Vidmar “that has contributed most effectively to the advancement of research in law and society.” The association lauded Vidmar as “the world’s leading scholar on jury behavior and decision-making,” and for conducting empirical research that “has helped advance the understanding of social science evidence in law, medical malpractice litigation, punitive damages, dispute resolution, and psychological mechanisms of retribution and revenge.”

A social psychologist by training and a founding member of the Law and Society Association, Vidmar is the author of American Juries: The Verdict (Prometheus Books, 2007, with Valerie Hans), Judging the Jury (Plenum Press, 1986, 2d ed. 2001, with Valerie Hans), and World Jury Systems (Oxford University Press, 2000), as well as more than 200 scholarly articles. His recent projects have focused on such matters as pro se litigants, legal malpractice, the process of decision-making within the criminal justice system, and racial bias in capital jury selection. He will soon publish a book on legal malpractice, co-authored with Professor Herbert Kritzer of the University of Minnesota.

The association noted that Vidmar’s work on the Arizona Jury Project, with Shari Diamond, “carries forward Harry Kalven's early jury research by providing unprecedented and detailed empirical data on how juries behave and interact during deliberations.” It also praised his contributions to numerous amicus briefs filed with state and appellate courts in the United States and Canada, his congressional testimony relating to malpractice reform and the evaluation of damages, and his expert testimony in jury trials in the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.  

After joining the Duke Law faculty in 1989, Vidmar introduced such courses as Social Science Evidence & the Law and Negotiation, which remains one of the most popular on the curriculum. Vidmar took emeritus status at the end of 2016.

The Law and Society Association is an interdisciplinary scholarly organization committed to social scientific, interpretive, and historical analyses of law across multiple social contexts.