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Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.

In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery.

The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, or if you have something useful or compelling to share about your experience in working with (or against) an expert witness, drop us a line.

Kenneth Bancroft Clark

This summer, the Harvard Graduate School of Education Ed. Magazine asked faculty, alumni, plaintiffs, lawyers, and activists to comment on the anniversaries of two landmark court cases in American education: Brown v. Board of Education(1954) and Milliken v. Bradley(1974).

As the magazine’s editor notes, “two cases, one known by all, the other hardly known outside legal and academic worlds. Both, however, have dramatically shaped public education in the United States.”

It’s worth the read.

It inspired us to look into the history of the Brown decision and the role of psychologist Kenneth Bancroft Clark as an expert witness in the NAACP’s challenge to the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in Briggs v. Elliott (1952), a South Carolina case that was one of four cases combined under Brown.

Not only did the unanimous decision in Brown invalidate a doctrine that was the basis for school segregation in 17 states and the District of Columbia, it also marked the first time that psychological research was cited in a Supreme Court decision.

Sixty years after the court’s tolling of the death-knell for legal segregation, Clark symbolizes the role that social science has come to play in law and social policy in the United States.

Clark is a man of firsts: the first African American man to receive a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University; the first tenured African American professor at City College of New York; and the first African American president of the American Psychological Association.

Chief Justice Earl Warren’s footnote 11 in the Brown decision is where Clark’s place in American legal history is memorialized.

As far back as 1909, the White House Conference on Children and Youth focused on improving the health and welfare of America’s young.

At midcentury, Clark was one of 6,000 men, women, and children from across the country and around the world attending the 1950 conference.

Clark’s conference paper, Effect of Prejudice and Discrimination on Personality Development, and his co-authorship of an appendix to the appellant’s briefs filed with the court in the Brown case, The Effects of Segregation and the Consequences of Desegregation: A Social Science Statement,was a summary of psychological research, with the imprimatur of dozens of American social scientists including psychologist Gordon Allport and sociologist Robert Merton.

It is these two sources that Warren cited among the seven sources in that famous footnote.

Decades before Brown, Clark and his wife and collaborator Mamie Phipps Clark’s research with children using two dolls (one black, the other white) to study identity development in preschoolers brought Clark to the attention of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP legal defense fund.

It was Clark’s expert testimony in Briggs that led Clark’s detractors to refer to him as the ‘doll man’ in their criticism of the Warren court’s finding that segregation “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.”

With criticism ranging from questions on methodology to interviewer bias, and the incidence of the same type of negative self-image from black children in Springfield, Massachusetts where schools were not legally segregated, some critics also feared that just as psychology was used to desegregate, it could be used to re-segregate.

For these critics, the fourteenth amendment was all that the court should have needed to strike down the Plessy doctrine.

In the aftermath of Brown, some social scientists did indeed argue that there were inherent race differences. But such theorizing could not counter the staying power of research by Clark and many others.

Clark and his colleagues gave intellectual heft to the growing national consensus that segregation was morally wrong.


Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.

In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery.

The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, or if you have something useful or compelling to share about your experience in working with (or against) an expert witness, drop us a line.


Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.

In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery.

The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, or if you have something useful or compelling to share about your experience in working with (or against) an expert witness, drop us a line.


Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts. In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery. The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, drop us a line

In the meantime, Ken Broda-Bahm, litigation consultant at Persuasion Strategies offers some advice on the economy of vocabulary in explaining complex ideas to the cognitively overloaded average juror. 


Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.  In our commitment to deliver state-of-the art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery. The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation. If you know an expert witness who we can feature, drop us a line.


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