Faculty Notes

Prof. Vern Walker Publishes Article on the Logic of Presumptions in Legal Decisions

Vern R. Walker, Professor of Law and Director of the Research Laboratory for Law, Logic and Technology

Professor Vern R. Walker published the article “Representing the Use of Rule-Based Presumptions in Legal Decision Documents” in the Oxford University Press peer-reviewed journal Law, Probability and Risk. The advance online version appeared May 26, 2014, with the print version to follow in 2014.

The article discusses rule-based presumptions that are authoritatively established, as distinct from other types of presumptions that are generalization-based or policy-based.

It first introduces some legal distinctions that are used to define presumptions in law, and then presents extended examples of legal presumptions drawn from the statute and case law governing compensation for vaccine-related injuries in the United States.

It proposes a formal method of representing rule-based legal presumptions that utilizes a three-valued, default logic.

Finally, it uses the vaccine-injury compensation cases and the concept of legal presumption to explore difficulties in determining the burdens of production and persuasion, the meaning of legal terms in propositions to be proved, and the inferences to be drawn from them.