Thursday, November 30, 2006

Coincidence -- or Strong Support for Bungler Hypothesis 2.1?

Today's NYTimes also reports:
In Moscow, the newspaper Kommersant reported that Andrei Lugovi, one of the two Russians who met with Mr. Litvinenko at the Millennium hotel on the day he became sick, said he had flown on one of the contaminated British Airways jets on Nov. 3.

Bungler Hypothesis 2.0 (and Bungler Hypothesis 1.1)

The British police have now uncovered traces of polonium 210 at at least twelve (12) different sites. See today's NYTimes. Assuming that the polonium 210 traces all emanate from the same sample of polonium 210, this new evidence suggests a new variant of the bungler hypothesis: people other than the victim Alexander V. Litvinenko carried a large amount of polonium 210 and bungled doing so. Call this Bungler Hypothesis 2.0

It appears that some traces were deposited days before L's death on an airplane that flew between the UK and Russia. If it is improbable that L flew to Msocow and back to the UK at that time, this bit of evidence greatly strengthens the hypothesis that some bungler apart from L was doing the principal bungling.

It is conceivable that someone traveled with the polonium from Moscow to the UK at L's behest. Call this Bungler Hypothesis 1.1.

One wants to know if the traces of polononium might have been deposited as a result of trips to to the bathroom. In this event presumably a large amount of polonium 210 would not have to have been involved. But if such bodily secretions were the source of the traces at the 12 locations, L probably was not the source -- since he probably did not fly to Moscow and back. Or?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Bungler Hypothesis

News reports now state that the British police have found traces on polonium 210 at six locations where Litvinenko had been in the hours or days before his death. Does this evidence suggest, not that L committed suicide, but that he himself was wittingly carrying polonium 210 for some reason and somehow mishandled this substance and thereby unwittingly killed himself? If traces of polonium 210 were left by L's movements over a period of days rather than hours, this may strengthen the hypothesis that L was a witting rather than an unwitting carrier of the substance.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Conference on Graphic and Visual Representations of Evidence and Inference in Legal Settings

Cardozo School of Law will host a conference on

Graphic and Visual Representations of Evidence and Inference in Legal Settings

Dates: January 28-29, 2007.

Venue: Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University, 55 Fifth Avenue (5th Ave. & 12th St.), New York (Manhattan), New York



First day (January 28, 2007):

9.00am-9.20am: Welcoming Comments (Tillers)


Vern Walker, Visualizing the Dynamics around the Rule/Evidence Interface in Legal Reasoning
Richard Sherwin & Neal Feigenson, Thinking beyond the Shown: Implicit Inferences in Visual Evidence and Argument
Kevin Ashley, Comment

11.00am-11.20am: coffee break


Tim van Gelder, Rationale: A Generic Argument Mapping Tool
Chris Reed, Wigmore, Toulmin and Walton: The Diagramming Trinity and their Application in Legal Practice
Dale Nance, Comment

1.00pm-2.00pm: lunch


John L. Pollock, Some Puzzles about Defeasible Reasoning
Ron Loui, A Modest Proposal for Annotating the Dialectical State of a Dispute
Richard Lempert, Comment

3.40pm-4.00pm: tea break


Thomas F. Gordon & Doug Walton, Visualizing Arguments of the Carneades Argumentation Framework
Bart Verheij, Virtual Arguments: On the Design of Argument Assistants for Lawyers and Other Arguers
Marc Lauritsen, Comment

5.20pm-6.30pm: dinner


Douglas N. Walton, Argumentation Theory for the Law of Evidence
Henry Prakken, Argument Visualisation Software for Crime Investigators: Design and First Experiences
William Twining, Comment

Second day (January 29, 2007):


John Lowrance, Graphical Manipulation of Evidence in Structured Arguments
John Josephson, Graphical Display of Evidence and Inference in a Prototype System for Command-Post Information Fusion

10.40am-11.00am: coffee break


David Schum & Jon Morris, Law Comes to the Rescue of Intelligence Analysis: Evaluating HUMINT
Philip Dawid & Amanda B. Hepler, Bayesian Networks for the Analysis of Evidence
Branden Fitelson, Argument Diagrams, Bayes Nets, and Independent Evidence

1.00pm-2.00pm: lunch


Bruce Hay, Law's Visual Imagination
Priit Parmakson, Can Effective Visual Representations Be Produced Systematically?
Neal Feigenson, Comment

3.40pm-4.00pm: tea break


Thomas Cobb, Argument Visualization as Jury Reform
Jennifer Mnookin, Visual and Expert Evidence: Rhetorical Connections and Invisible Affinities
Samuel Solomon, Visual Storytelling - Contextualizing Evidence through Visualization Taken from Real Cases
David Tait, Comment

6.20pm-6.35pm: Closing Comments (Prakken)

Conference officials:
Peter Tillers (Cardozo Law School): Conference chair; e-mail address:
Henry Prakken (Universiteit Utrecht & University of Groningen): Program chair; e-mail address:
Thomas D. Cobb (University of Washington, Seattle): Deputy program chair; e-mail address:
Jonathan Gottfried: Local affairs coordinator: Jonathan Gottfried; e-mail address:"


  • Kevin Ashley (University of Pittsburgh School of Law)
  • Thomas D. Cobb
    University of Washington School of Law
  • Philip Dawid
    Professor of Statistics
    University College London
  • Neal Feigenson
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Branden Fitelson
    Assistant Professor of Philosophy
    University of California at Berkeley
  • Tim van Gelder
    Associate Professor of Philosophy
    University of Melbourne
  • Thomas F. Gordon
    Senior Research Scientist
    eGovernment Competence Center
    Fraunhofer Institut fuer Offene Kommunikationssysteme; web log
  • Bruce Hay
    Harvard Law School
  • Amanda B. Hepler
    Department of Statistical Science
    University College London
  • John Josephson
    Research Scientist
    Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research
    Computer Science and Engineering
    Ohio State University
  • Marc Lauritsen
    Capstone Practice Systems
  • Richard Lempert
    Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology
    University of Michigan Law School
  • Ronald P. Loui
    Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
    Washington University in St. Louis
  • John D. Lowrance
    Program Director, Artificial Intelligence Center
    SRI International
  • Jennifer Mnookin
    UCLA School of Law
  • Jon Morris
    Affiliate Faculty Member
    School of Information Engineering and Technology
    Systems Engineering and Operations Research
    George Mason University
  • Dale Nance
    Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Priit Parmakson
    Tallinn University
  • John L. Pollock
    Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science
    University of Arizona
  • Henry Prakken
    Lecturer, Department of Information and Computing Sciences
    Utrecht University
    Professor of Law and ICT
    Faculty of Law
    University of Groningen
  • Chris Reed
    Senior Lecturer & Assistant Head of Research
    University of Dundee
  • David Schum
    Systems Engineering & Operations Research
    George Mason University
  • Richard Sherwin
    Professor & Director, Visual Persuasion Project
    New York Law School
  • Samuel Solomon
    Chairman & CEO
    DOAR Litigation Consulting
  • David Tait
    Senior Lecturer
    School of Law
    University of Canberra
  • Peter Tillers
    Cardozo School of Law
    Yeshiva University
  • William Twining
    Quain Professor of Jurisprudence emeritus
    University College London Law Faculty &
    University of Miami School of Law
  • Bart Verheij
    Lecturer & Researcher
    Artificial Intelligence
    University of Groningen
  • Vern Walker
    Hofstra University School of Law
  • Douglas N. Walton
    Professor of Philosophy
    University of Winnipeg

    Description of conference:

    One of the largest problems faced by criminal investigators, litigators, paralegals, triers of fact, and others interested in disputes about factual questions in legal settings is the sheer mass of evidence available. It is often difficult to remember, retrieve, and interpret voluminous evidential information, and important relationships and inconsistencies may go unnoticed as a result. Tools that support the storage, retrieval, and interpretation of large masses of evidence would therefore be of great use.

    Psychological studies have shown that people's ability to remember, retrieve, and interpret information is greatly enhanced when they organize it in a way that is meaningful to them. Scholars of the law of evidence have long suggested that graphical representations of evidential arguments and inferences could help people make sense of masses of evidence. As early as 1913, John Henry Wigmore claimed that his charting method promotes rational thinking about legal evidence. Wigmore had only pencil and paper to draw his cumbersome graphs. Today computer software may make it possible for almost anyone to construct useful graphical representations of arguments and inferences related to large collections of evidence. If such software were combined with with existing database, document management, and search technology, documentary evidence could be stored and retrieved in accordance with the user's view of a case. This would facilitate the transfer of a case file from one person to another because it would make it easier for recipients of files to grasp the signficance of the evidentiary details of a case.

    Software for graphical representation of evidential argument is currently being investigated for use in various domains. Argument visualization software has been designed, for instance, to support the teaching of scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills (e.g., Belvedere, Reasonable, Araucaria, Convince Me), to support intelligence analysis, and to facilitate individual or collaborative problem solving (e.g., Questmap, SEAS). Moreover, current artificial intelligence research offers precise accounts of evidential reasoning and thus provides a clear semantics of graphical notations as well as computationall methods.

    In the legal domain, fact investigators and litigators increasingly use software that supports the storage and retrieval of information in terms of conceptual and relational networks (e.g., Holmes 2, Analyst's Notebook). As yet, however, such tools offer little or no support for structuring thinking about information: existing software allows users to store evidentiary data in terms of events, objects, actors, and the relations among these things, but it does not allow users to represent how such data support or undermine factual hypotheses.

    This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars and practitioners from fields such as law, philosophy, computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. The following topics and issues will be addressed:

    • New and current graphical means for visualization of factual inference and proof.
    • Semantics of graphical notations: what are the underlying theories of evidential reasoning, including jurisprudential, philosophical, psychological, rhetorical, logical, and mathematical theories?
    • Software tools that are currently available or under development for graphical representation of factual inference and proof.
    • Potential contexts for the use of such software (e.g., criminal investigation, intelligence analysis, trials, and law teaching).
    • Can graphical representation of evidential argument support automatic evaluation of hypotheses?
    • How can current insights into human-computer interactuions be exploited to increase the usefulness of such software; e.g., how can visual complexity generated by large masses of evidence be managed?
    • Are there pertinent empirical studies and findings about real-world use of evidence-charting methods in legal and other contexts?

    Drafts and abstracts of some or all papers will be made available online at shortly before the conference begins. Final versions of the papers will be published in Law, Probability and Risk in 2007 and 2008.

    The public is warmly encouraged to attend the conference. Advance registration is not required and there is no registration fee. However, there will be a charge for any lunches or dinners that attendees elect to take at the site of the conference, at Cardozo Law School. If you are not a panelist and would like to join us for any lunches or dinners at Cardozo, please RSVP to the address shown below by January 15, 2007, and indicate which meals you wish to purchase, enclosing payment of $35 for each. Please make checks payable to Cardozo School of Law. Send payment to

    Alisa Norr
    Legal Secretary
    Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP
    1633 Broadway, 46th floor
    New York, NY 10019
    United States

    Hotel arrangements may be made through the conference travel agency:

    Morris Park Travel Bureau
    1745 Wiliamsbridge Road
    Bronx, NY 10461
    1-718-792-9850 or toll free 1-877-526-8844
    Fax: 1-718-863-7121
    Email: MPTVL@AOL.COM
  • A Time-Space Line in the Litvinenko Investigation

    The NYTimes reports today:
    The British police on Sunday sought to retrace the movements of Alexander V. Litvinenko, a former Russian secret agent, before he fell ill from the radiation poisoning that killed him last week.
    Naturally I wonder if the British police are using a computer to display the space-time lines they construct. See conference on graphic and visual representations of evidence and inference in legal settings.

    A Largely-Forgotten Crime

    The partisans fighting for Chechen independence have committed some appalling atrocities. However, I think it only right to record that Chechens were the victims of of a great and largely-forgotten crime. Consider Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History pp. 427-429 (Doubleday 2003):
    The Soviet authorities had "trustworthy information" [during WWII] that there were thousands of spies, yet no spies had been reported. Ergo, everybody was guilty of hiding the enemy.

    The "collaborators" included several small Caucasian nations--the Karachai, the Kalmyks, the Chechens, and the Ingush--as well as the Crimean Tartars and some other small minority groups: Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Khemshils, as well as even smaller groups of Greeks, Bulgarians, and Armenians. Of these, only the Chechen and Tartar deportations were ever made public in Stalin's lifetime. ...

    [T]here is no evidence of massive Chechen or Tartar collaboration. ... An NKVD report from the time speaks of only 335 "bandits" in the [Chechen] republic. ...

    In fact, Stalin's aim, at least in deporting the Caucasians and the Tartars, was probably not revenge for collaboration. He seems, rather, to have used the war as a form of cover story, as an excuse to carry out long-planned ethnic-cleansing operations. ... All the evidence seems to indicate that Stalin simply wanted to wipe his hands of this troublesome, deeply anti-Soviet people.


    If anything, the Chechen [deportation] operation was crueler [than the Tartar deportation operation]. Many observers remember that the NKVD used American-made Studebakers in the Chechen deportations, recently purchased through the Lend-Lease program, and shipped over the border from Iran. Many have also described how the Chechens were taken off the Studebakers, and placed into sealed trains: they were not only deprived of water, like "ordinary" prisoners, but also of food. Up to 78,000 Chechens may have died on the transport trains alone.

    ...By 1949, hundreds of thousands of the Caucasians, and between a third and a half of the Crimean Tartars were dead [from disease and physical hardship].

    But from Moscow's point of view, there was one important difference between the wartime waves of arrest and deportation, and those that had happened earlier: the choice of target was new. For the first time, Stalin had decided to eliminate not just members of particular, suspect nationalities, or categories of political "enemies," but entire nations--men, women, children, grandparents--and wipe them off the map.

    Perhaps "genocide" is not the proper term for these deportations, since there were no mass executions. ... "Cultural genocide," however, is not inappropriate. After they had gone, the names of all the deported peoples were eliminated from official documents... The authorities wiped their homelands off the map... Regional authorities destroyed cemeteries, renamed towns and villages, and removed the former inhabitants from the history books.

    In evaluating my assessment of the evidence in the Litvinenko case, you should take into account that I was born in Riga, Latvia, and that my maternal grandparents were deported to Siberia in June of 1941, shortly before the German invasion of the USSR began. The mode of transportation: Railroad cattle car and barge. Result: Death within a year.

    Tracing the Original Source of the Polonium 210

    The Guardian reports:
    What are the main lines of inquiry?

    The [UK] security services will focus on where the polonium 210 came from. If it was made in a nuclear facility, it will contain traces of other radioactive isotopes that could identify the facility.

    Is This Keystone Cops Story True?

    Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun writes (emphasis added):
    During 1999, Moscow and a provincial city were racked by a series of apartment building bombings that killed 300 people. Panic swept Russia.

    The bombings were blamed on "Chechen Islamic terrorists." But Moscow police caught a team of SVR [Russian intelligence agency for foreign affairs] agents red-handed planting explosives in a residential building. The agents claimed they were running a "security test."

    Question: Is this story true?

    A nuclear reactor may have been required to kill Litvinenko

    Acording to the NYTimes, 11/24, a nuclear reactor would be required to produce the amount of polonium 210 reportedly found in Alexander V. Litvinenko's (dead) body:
    [M]aking the "significant quantities" described in Mr. Litvinenko's body by the British Health Protection Agency would require a nuclear reactor that could bombard the element bismuth with neutrons.

    "To most chemists, this is astonishing," said Dr. Andrea Sella, a lecturer in inorganic chemistry at London’s University College. "This is not available commercially."

    "This is not the kind of weapon that any kind of amateur could construct," he added. "It would require real resources to do it."

    Polonium 210 is "extremely hard to detect"

    Associated Press reports that polonium 210, which was used to kill Alexander V. Litvinenko, is extremely hard to detect. See, Nov. 24, 2006.