Drs. Diane Litman and Rebecca Hwa awarded Pitt Momentum Funds Scaling Grant

Along with collaborators Kevin Ashley, James Anderson, and Daqing He, Department of Computer Science faculty Diane Litman and Rebecca Hwa were awarded a 2022 Pitt Momentum Funds Scaling Grant for their work on the Center for Text Analytic Methods in Legal Studies. The Scaling Grant supports the detailed project planning, gathering of proof-of-concept results, and reduction of technical risk so that teams can competitively pursue large, complex extramural funding.

Grant abstract: The Center for Text Analytic Methods in Legal Studies is a research collaboration of experts from the University of Pittsburgh’s Schools of Law and Computing and Information, the RAND Corporation, Duquesne Law School, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Their goal is to apply newly developed machine learning and natural language processing techniques to newly available sources of legal text data to evaluate legal and social questions involving racism, gender equality, immigration, public health, crime, or education that have real world policy implications and that traditionally have not been evaluable to the same extent without text analytic tools. Initially, the Center is investigating drug interdiction automobile stop cases concerning the constitutionality of police decisions to search. Such cases are a persistent cause of racial friction and have led to thousands of court decisions at the state and federal level. The team seeks to identify factors on which courts rely in assessing if police have “reasonable suspicion” to detain a motorist for further investigation (e.g., a police dog drug sniff), to assign statistical weights to these factors across thousands of cases, to identify explicit or implicit racial bias in the cases and explore their relationships to factor weights and case outcomes, and to draw out the social and legal policy implications of their findings.


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