Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series

Using Computer Models to Support Court Cases



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Computer models are frequently published and therefore scrutinized by peers. Authors must provide detailed model documentation, and sometimes model-based papers are rejected due to inadequate documentation and/or model weaknesses (in the opinion of reviewers). Computer models are less frequently used in court cases to support expert testimony. Such testimony is often submitted initially as an expert report on behalf of the plaintiffs or defendants. The expert is subsequently “deposed” (questioned under oath) by the opposing side. This questioning can be very confrontive and may delve into other work published by the expert as well as the submitted expert report. If the case goes to trial (most do not; they are settled “out of court”), the expert will likely be called to testify by “their” side and cross-examined by the other side. Since the stakes can be quite high (billions of dollars), the examination of the expert’s work may be more thorough than a typical peer review process. This talk will give an overview of the framework for using computer models in sworn testimony and then describe a specific recent example related to the opioid epidemic in which the speaker provided a model-based expert report. He had previously published a number of model-based papers on the subject.

Biographical Information

Wayne Wakeland is a PSU professor and the Systems Science Program chair. His research and teaching focus on computer simulation. Subject areas included biomedical applications, including traumatic brain injury, and health policy, especially related to the opioid epidemic. His training was in engineering initially and then Systems Science in the mid-seventies. He worked in industry for many years prior to becoming a full-time academic.


Opioid abuse, System analysis, System dynamics


Law | Systems Science

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Using Computer Models to Support Court Cases