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Implicit Bias Lecture Highlights W&L Law MLK Day Activities

Update: Video from these events is now available on the W&L Law YouTube Channel.

Washington and Lee University School of Law will hold a number of activities on Monday, January 21 in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Law classes have been cancelled so that students may attend these events.

At 3:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, the School will present a guest lecture delivered by North Carolina District Court Judge Louis A. Trosch ’88 on implicit bias in the courtroom. Implicit bias research focuses on uncovering pervasive unconscious preferences, including racial preferences, operating below the level of our awareness. Judge Trosch has pioneered efforts to apply the insights of social science research on implicit bias in his own courtroom and more broadly within the judicial system.

W&L Professor of Psychology Julie Woodzicka will also participate in the program with Judge Trosch. She will discuss how people automatically process information, how that leads to stereotyping and prejudice, and how implicit bias impacts behavior. She will also explain how implicit bias is measured.

Additional MLK Day programming includes a talk by Howard Pickett, adjunct instructor with the Shepherd Poverty Program, on Dr. King’s theological-ethical rationale for non-violent resistance. Millhiser Moot Court Room, 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Following Mr. Pickett’s talk, a W&L Law faculty panel will explore the intersection of race with the professors’ areas of scholarly interest. Assoc. Dean for Academic Affairs Johanna Bond will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Prof. Joan Shaughnessy, Assoc. Dean Benjamin Spencer, and Visiting Professor Jon Shapiro. Topics will include racism and the death penalty and how civil procedure limits access to justice for plaintiffs asserting certain kinds of “disfavored” claims, such as those in the area of civil rights and employment discrimination. Millhiser Moot Court Room, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The law school will also screen the Presidential Inauguration at 1:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room. A pizza lunch will be provided beginning at noon.

That evening, the Law School will screen the Oscar-winning documentary “Murder on a Sunday Morning.” The film tells the story of 15-year-old Brenton Butler, a black resident of Jacksonville, Florida, who becomes the prime suspect in the shooting death of an elderly white woman.  Professors J.D. King and David Bruck will offer commentary on this exploration of modern police investigation. Millhiser Moot Court Room, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.