A&I statisticians William Fairley and William Huber assisted counsel for plaintiffs in a successful action against the US government. In Elhady v. Kable, the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) alleged that the FBI’s use of its terrorist screening database (TSDB), popularly known as the “Watchlist,” discriminates against Muslim-Americans. The Watchlist includes over a million people, some 5,000 of whom are American citizens. A&I used historical data and summaries of the Watchlist’s contents to evaluate its efficacy and potential to discriminate.
On September 4, 2019, Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of a summary judgment motion by CAIR, declaring that “...the administrative process used to place a person on the TSDB has an inherent, substantial risk of erroneous deprivation [of civil liberties] and that additional procedures ... would reduce the risk of erroneous inclusion in the TSDB and all the resulting consequences.” The Judge will rule later on remedies to implement the decision.
The American Statistician, a principal journal of the American Statistical Association, will publish the article, “On Being an Ethical Statistical Expert in a Legal Case,” written by A&I senior statisticians, Will Fairley and Bill Huber.They use examples from their consulting experience to show how statistical evidence can be honestly and effectively used in courts. They maintain it is vital for would-be experts to study the rules of the legal process and their role within it. They explain what the legal process looks for in an expert and present some ways in which an expert can maintain their independence while contributing to a case.
In a paper to appear in Observational Studies in February 2018, statisticians William Fairley and William Huber at Analysis & Inference review how courts have treated statistical evidence of causality in prima facie proof of disparate impact discrimination. Noting differences in statistical and legal criteria for proof, they observe that in both realms providing a “tenable alternative hypothesis” may not be required but is more persuasive.