Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Ferguson Event

Ferguson as a Case Study in Persuasion

8:15am to 5:30pm
Room 25, Mondale Hall

Thank you to all who were able to join us for "Ferguson as a Case Study in Persuasion" at the University of Minnesota Law School.  Video of conference, as well as the criminal and civil reports from the Department of Justice are posted below.

Conference Description

Our launching point was the Ferguson reports, prepared and presented in a context where the findings were sure to be strongly challenged by people with contrary prior beliefs and an enormous amount at stake in maintaining those beliefs. This symposium examined those reports, and used them as a case study in how people are, or are not, persuaded regarding high profile incidents that raise complex and sensitive societal issues.  Since the events in Ferguson occurred, the American public has been engaged in an important national dialogue about policing practices, race, community trust, and public safety.  The dialogue is affected, and too often impeded, by people’s assumptions and biases; both the identification of problems, and the development of solutions, are adversely affected.   

Starting with a discussion of the Ferguson reports by the authors of the reports, we explored the reactions they elicited. We also considered the ‘science’ of persuasion, as well as attempts, successes, and failures at persuasion in other contexts from the perspective of those involved in persuading and being persuaded in legal and public arenas.  The symposium attempted to demonstrate that taking a more critical perspective about one’s own assumptions and biases (about, among other things, race, class, and the workings of the police and other governmental institutions) is both warranted and productive.  

OrganizerClaire Hill 

Continuing Legal Education

An application for 5 Standard Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits and 2 Elimination of Bias credits for attorneys has been approved. Event Code: 245494.

Sponsored by the University of Minnesota Law School and the Law School’s Institute for Law and Rationality, the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, the Human Rights Center, and the Office of Advancement. With additional sponsorship from the University’s Center for the Study of Political Psychology, and the Hennepin County Bar Association

  • A speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • A Panel at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
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  • a  panel at the Ferguson Conference
  • a panel at the Ferguson Conference
  • an audience member at the Ferguson Conference
  • an audience member at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a panel at the Ferguson Conference
  • an audience member at the Ferguson Conference
  • an audience member at the Ferguson Conference
  • an audience member at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a panel at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference
  • a speaker at the Ferguson Conference

Conference Video

Ferguson Conference

Agenda

Breakfast and Check-In: 8:15 a.m.

8:45-8:55 a.m.

Welcome:

8:55-9:00 a.m.

Dean’s Welcome:

Garry Jenkins, Dean of the University of Minnesota Law School

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Panel One: Writing the Reports: Ferguson and Brown/Wilson

How were the reports written? (by the authors of the reports, to include Hon. Mark Kappelhoff, 4th Judicial District, Hennepin County, Minnesota; Robert Moossy, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice; Fara Gold, Special Litigation Counsel, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice; and Christy Lopez, Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Georgetown University Law School and former Deputy Chief in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.)  How did the report writers understand their task? What did they do to blunt predictable objections? (How did they predict objections?) What assumptions did they make about the prior beliefs and predispositions of their readership? What were points of disagreement among the group? What were points of agreement?  

10:00 - 10:15 a.m.

Break

10:15- 11:15 p.m.

Roundtable: Journalist and Public Relations Perspectives

11:15 – 12:15 p.m. 

What persuades, as to controversial subjects: a real world perspective

Matthew Hutson, Slides: huston_ferguson_slides_.pptx873k

Jonathan Salem Baskin

Marc Olivier Baruch

 

Panelists for this panel and for the after-lunch roundtable on what persuades include journalists, lawyers, public relations people, judges, and a historian.  (The historian, Marc-Olivier Baruch , testified at the trial of war criminal Maurice Papon). 

 

The aim of these panels is to consider how people in the business of persuading the public in fora such as newspapers and courts, do so, from the perspective of both those doing the persuading and those to whom the persuasion is directed. 

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

LUNCH:

(Box lunches will be available for purchase. If you would like to order a box lunch,  please select one when you register and bring a check (preferred) or cash for the exact amount to the conference.)  

1:15- 2:15 p.m.

Roundtable: Community Reactions to the Report

2:15-3:30 p.m.

Roundtable: What persuades, as to controversial subjects: a real world perspective

3:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Break

3:45 - 5:15 p.m.

What does and does not persuade: An Academic Perspective

Art Markman

Howard Lavine, Slides: lavine_ferguson_slides.pptx69k

John Borrows

June Carbone

Avner Ben-Ner, Slides: ben-ner_ferguson_slides.pptx214k

Claire Hill

Chris Roberts

Susanna Blumenthal

  

It has become increasingly clear that persuasion is no easy matter. People apparently have complex reasons for what they believe—reasons they may or may not be aware of.  And what changes minds is not in any simple way “facts” (and “facts” is not a simple concept). Indeed, presentation of a fact contrary to a held belief may cause the believer to hew more closely to that belief.  

  

This panel considers why arguments or recitations of “facts” intended to persuade do not persuade.  The underlying assumption is not that the arguments or recitations in some normative sense should persuade.  Rather, the inquiry is aimed at understanding the difference between the perspectives of the person intending to persuade and the person not being persuaded. 

  

The experts on this panel will discuss their research on how people form and adjust their beliefs.  Their areas of expertise include political science, psychology, linguistics, and law.

5:15 - 5:30 p.m.

Final Session: Discussion Among Participants and Audience

Contact

If you have additional questions please email us at robina@umn.edu or call (612) 626-6600.