[NWPT48]I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to wake up this morning and find the TVW feed still working. Ah well, I suppose I better listen, and update this post as warranted. As always, The Seattle Times’ David Postman will also be providing regular trial updates.
The big news today should come out of the Frye hearing, in which the Court will hear the scientific basis for allowing the GOP’s proportional deduction methodology.
Here comes the exciting part…
That is, if you call testimony from statisticians exciting. The Dems have finished crossing Clark Benson, and the R’s main expert witness, Jonathan Katz has been called to the stand, so finally, the Frye hearing begins. Katz nervously commented to the judge that he’s never done this before, and didn’t know how this was going to work. To which Judge Bridges amusingly responded, “Well, I think Mr. Burman is going to work you over.”
Sure hope so. Stay tuned….
Burman works over Katz (9:54 am)
Polite, but firm. (Okay, now he just made a comment that wasn’t so polite, demanding that Katz look at him and answer the questions, rather than looking furtively to Rossi’s legal team for help.) Katz refuses to vouch for the reliability of the data set, and cannot say whether it was a scientifically designed or random sample.
Witness needs more water (10:15 am)
Katz has asked the court for more water. Burman’s thirst producing questioning focused both on the reliability of the data, and accepted scientific standards. Burman read from several sources that Katz vouched for, which laid out the principle that even the best available methods of ecological inference can be “wildly inaccurate,” and that in political science it is unreliable to infer from aggregate data. Katz admits that his statistical model relies on several assumptions, including “neighborhood homogeneity” and the reliability of the data.
Burman has finished with Katz (for the moment.) The Democrat’s statistical expert, Christopher Adolf, will testify after the morning recess.
Mmm… herring (10:33 am)
I took advantage of the break to surf around and see what others are writing, and I thought I’d point out this gem from our good friend Stefan over at (u)SP:
Burman brings up the red herring of the “ecological fallacy”.
That’s right, when you don’t have a rebuttal, just ridicule and dismiss the opposing side’s argument. Sheesh… sometimes I think Stefan practices his rhetorical technique by reading instructions from a how-to book. I Googled “ecological fallacy” and got 15,800 hits. Research it for yourself.
Good social science starts with good data (11:01 am)
That is the testimony of Prof. Adolph. Under Burman’s questioning, he is really tearing apart the GOP’s statistical analysis. I’m too busy listening to the testimony to comment in detail, but much of what Adolph testified to was covered in DJ’s excellent analysis of the his declaration here.
Adolph is now being cross-examined, and still sounds pretty confident.
Why not ask them? (11:21 am)
The Republican’s main refutation of Prof. Adolph’s testimony is that he is a non-tenured, former graduate assistant of the Prof. Katz, who he is now criticizing. Under cross-examination, Adolph suggested that an accurate way for determining the votes of felons might be to conduct a survey. When asked how one would possibly conduct such a survey, he bluntly proposed “since we have a list of illegal voters, I suggest asking them.”
They’re done with Adolf, and moving on to Prof. Mark Handcock.
GOP whimsy (12:51 pm)
Under questioning from Burman, Prof. Handcock stated that the “Principle of Insufficient Reason” was regarded in the statistical community as a “whimsical” notion. What wasn’t whimsical was the way the GOP attorneys tried to discredit Handcock, by showing that he doesn’t write about election data. Not surprising, considering he’s a statistician, not a political scientist. I know they’re just doing what lawyers do, but still, that doesn’t mean they don’t come across as assholes.
The main battle was over whether the GOP’s statistical methods could be applied to available evidence. The Democratic experts argued that the data was neither a scientific sample or represented the “universe” of illegal ballots. The Republicans’ response was that if the court accepted these ballots as the universe, then the methodology would be good. Handcock made a distinction between law and science.
The main point, is that while one could perform such an analysis on the available data, it still wouldn’t be scientific, no matter what the court ruled. And the R’s fight back that, well… the Dems don’t offer an alternative. But bad science is bad science.
This whole exchange is kind of like my eight-year-old getting pissy because she wants a bagel for breakfast and I don’t have one. I can’t give her what I don’t have. Likewise statistics simply doesn’t offer the court good science to accurately estimate for whom felons voted.
Court is adjourned until 1:30, and I’m taking my puppy for a walk.
John Carlson Show again at 3:15 (1:34 pm)
I just got a call, and John has invited Stefan and me back on the show today and tomorrow at 3:15 pm. I assume we’ll be talking about herring.
Court’s back in session. More later….
How the Judge WILL rule on Frye (2:03 pm)
I predict the Judge will adopt the Sec. of State’s position, that the evidence is admissible, but that it may not meet the “clear and convincing” standard of proof. This would be consistent with his rulings all along, that he allows nearly all the evidence in, and will eventually make his ruling on the evidentiary findings, not a point of law. This will make it very difficult to appeal.
How the Judge DID rule on Frye (2:16 pm)
Well, um… he didn’t.
Judge Bridges enunciated his “desire to make sure that as much evidence is available as possible” to the Supreme Court, which as I previously stated, has been his wont all along. And so he deserved to reserve ruling on Frye until later, and though it may not meet the letter of Frye, permit the parties to go ahead and present their cases. He did, however, address GOP attorney Mark Braden directly on the subject: “I have concerns.”
So… I suppose my prediction was somewhat accurate. The evidence will be presented, but he hasn’t necessarily accepted the science (indeed, he telegraphed that he might not.) That will be decided later, as well as the issue as to whether it meets the standard of proof.
And that bit of non-news was the biggest piece of news all week.
What David said (4:45 pm)
The court adjourned early today, and I have no idea why. After 45 minutes on the Carlson show and fielding a couple phone calls, I came back to find it all over. Not that I probably missed anything, as they were just taking testimony from expert witnesses who had previously been deposed. But if you’re really curious, I’d suggest you just read the latest updates from David Postman.