Centre College’s Mykol Hamilton, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Psychology, recently offered her expert opinion to two investigative journalists, Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman, for an article on jury bias in a case against a Dakota Access Pipeline protestor.
The protestor, Red Fawn Fallis, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. However, Horn and Waltman obtained the results of a jury consultant’s study to determine whether the possible local jury pool had biases against Fallis and whether the government should therefore move the trial to another district.
They presented the investigation’s findings to Hamilton, who also works as the research director for the American Society of Trial Consultants’ (ASTC) Foundation. She agreed with the conclusions that the poll indicated a strong bias against Fallis in the area and that the judge should move the trial’s venue.
“Steve and Curtis showed me change of venue poll in the community in which the case will occur,” Hamilton said. “The poll asked whether people were familiar with the defendant’s case. I’ve done many of these surveys, and I’ve never seen 100 percent recognition.”
Additionally, she noted that the percentage of people in the area who had already formed an opinion on Fallis’s guilt was also among the highest she had ever seen.
“I said if you want to have justice, don’t have the case here,” Hamilton added. “I gave my opinion and it turns out the case was moved.”
Hamilton plans on continuing research in this area in the future in her work with the Foundation, which she enjoys sharing with her students.
Recent work brought her class to a national law conference in Chicago.
“That undergraduates can get so heavily involved here with professors’ research—it’s something that doesn’t happen at other larger colleges,” she concluded.
By Kathleen Murphy ’18
November 21, 2017