About Mara Merlino


  • Mesa State College, Psychology, B.A. 1995
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Social Psychology, M.A. 2002
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program In Social Psychology Ph.D. 2005


  • Sociology and Criminal Justice Instructor, School of Social Research and Justice Studies, University of Nevada, Reno 2007
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, University of Nevada, Reno 2005-2007
  • Research Methodology and Statistics Consultant, Judicial Studies Program, University of Nevada, Reno 2004-present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Truckee Meadows Community College 1999-present
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, University of Nevada, Reno 1998-2005
  • Instructor, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Reno 2004
  • Instructor, Department of Psychology, Western Nevada Community College 2003
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Master of Judicial Studies Program, University of Nevada, Reno 1997-1998
  • Teaching Assistant, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno 1996-1997
  • Teaching Assistant, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Reno 1995-1996


Judicial decision-making, jury decision-making, judge and attorney education, the use of scientific evidence in court, gender and the law, domestic violence and the law, the influence of extra-legal factors in the presentation of evidence, and litigation counseling.


I have designed, directed, and supervised several large-scale research projects. Among these are a national survey of law school professors, currently sponsored by NSF (Co-PI and Project Director); a national survey of 400 state trial court judges sponsored by the State Justice Institute, the Federal Judicial Center, The National Judicial College, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, and the Judicial Studies Program at the University of Nevada, Reno (Project Coordinator); a national survey of juvenile and family court judges sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Lucile Packard Foundation (Survey Manager); a national research project sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center designed to update the findings of the Judicial Education Committee of the Judicial and Regulatory Decision Making Task Force of the Carnegie commission on Science Technology and Government, published in 1993 (Project Director); and other evaluation research projects more narrow in scope.


I have co-authored and presented approximately 30 publications and papers related to social psychology and law.


  • Domitrovich, S., Merlino, M.L., & Richardson, J.T. (under review). Judicial independence and ensuring impartiality: When, why, and how state trial judges use court-appointed experts.
  • Merlino, M.L., Murray, C.I., & Richardson, J.T. (under review). Judicial gatekeeping and the social construction of the admissibility of expert testimony.
  • Dobbin, S.A., Gatowski, S.I., Johnson, M.T., Norwick, R.J., Cecil, J.S., Dahir, V.B., Merlino, M.L., Richardson, J.T., Krafka, C., & Ginsburg, G.P. (2007). Federal and state trial judges on the proffer and presentation of expert evidence. Justice System Journal, 28(1), 1-15.
  • Dahir, V.B., Richardson, J.T., Ginsburg, G.P., Gatowski, S.I., Dobbin, S.A., & Merlino, M.L. (2005). Judicial application of Daubert to psychological syndrome and profile evidence: A research note. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 11(1), 62-82.
  • Gatowski, S.I., Dobbin, S.A., Richardson, J.T., Ginsburg, G.P., Merlino, M.L., & Dahir, V. (2001). Asking the gatekeepers: A national survey of judges on judging expert evidence in a post-Daubert world. Law and Human Behavior, 25(5), 433-458.


  • Meeting the Challenges of the Daubert Trilogy: refining and Redefining the Reliability of Forensic Evidence by: Mara L. Merlino, Victoria Springer, Jan Seaman Kelly, Derek Hammond, Eric Sahota, Lori Haines. Tulsa Law Review Vol. 43 No. 2 Winter 2007 pp. 4157-445.
  • Richardson, J.T., Ginsburg, G.P., Dobbin, S.A., Gatowski, S.I., Dahir, V., & Merlino, M.L. (2003). Judges and epidemiological evidence. Judicature, 87(1), 38-39.
  • Dobbin, S.A., Gatowski, S.I., Richardson, J.T., Ginsburg, G.P., Merlino, M.L., & Dahir, V. (2002). Applying Daubert: How well do judges understand science and scientific method? Judicature, 85(5), 244-247.
  • Dobbin, S.A., Gatowski, S.I., Ginsburg, G.P., Merlino, M.L., Dahir, V., & Richardson, J.T. (2001). Surveying difficult populations: Lessons learned from a national survey of state trial court judges. Justice System Journal, 22(3), 287-314.


  • Teaching Experience. Introductory Psychology; Introductory Sociology; Introduction to Statistics; Social Psychology; Abnormal Psychology; Psychology of Human Adjustment; Psychology of Dreams; Aging in Modern Society, Research Methods, Statistics. Have directed 2 undergraduate internships.
  • Curriculum Development. Project Manager, “Science in the Courtroom: Better Understanding Through Judicial Education.” Results of this project were used to create a model curriculum for judges on the admissibility of scientific evidence in courts. This deskbook, titled “The Basic Methods and Philosophies of Science,” written by Dr. Sophie Gatowski and Dr. Shirley Dobbin (Project Directors on the grant), was the result of a collaborative effort between the Project Directors, Co-Principal Investigators (Dr. James T. Richardson and Dr. Gerald P. Ginsburg), Project Manager(Mara L. Merlino, Ph.D.), and Survey Manager (Veronica Dahir, Ph.D.), and a dozen graduate and undergraduate research assistants (see www.unr.edu/bench).
  • Consultation. Litigation consulting focus group research on a contract basis. Statistics and methods consultant to the Judicial Studies Program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Professional Affiliations. Member, Rocky Mountain Psychological Association; American Society of Trial Consultants; AP-LS (Div. 41, American Psychological Association).



James T. Richardson, Colleen I. Murray, Ronald C. Dillehay, Gerald P. Ginsburg, Veronica Dahir, Roselynn Polk, University of Nevada, Reno; Sophia Gatowski, Shirley Dobbin, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Dionne Maxwell, Nevada Department of Education; Joe Cecil, Federal Judicial Center; David Faigman, Hastings College of Law; Stephanie Domitrovich, Erie County Court of Pleas.


University of Nevada, Reno: Colleen I. Murray, Director, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology, dissertation chair; James T. Richardson, Director, Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies and Judicial Studies Program, and Professor of Sociology; Mary White Stewart, Director, Women’s Studies Program and Professor of Sociology; Susan Lentz, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice; Gordon Zimmerman, Chair, Speech, Communication, and Theatre.