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Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies

2013 Projects
  • Engagement with the Justice System

2009-2010 Projects
  • Nevada Judicial Evaluation Pilot Project

Contact Information

Grant Sawyer Center for
Justice Studies

Contact Please see our Directory for Center staff information
Phone (775) 784-6272
Fax (775) 784-6273
Location National Judicial College Building
Address 1664 N. Virginia Street
Mail Stop 313
Reno, NV 89557
Room 114
Contact Contact us by phone or email


Center's Activities on Justice Related Issues

Downloads (PDF)

Nevada Judicial Evaluation Pilot Project

Downloads (PDF)

Evaluating Front-Loading Strategies in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases:Are We Improving Outcomes for Children and Families?
(National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Project)

Downloads (Outside Link to Affiliate National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges) website


Since the creation of the Center in 1992 a number of research projects have been carried out by Center staff and related personnel. These projects have included:

  • An evaluation of Court Annexed Arbitration in Nevada
  • Interviews with Nevada's District Attorneys on their views and uses of the
    death penalty in Nevada
  • Studies of treatment of minority religions in former Soviet Union nations since
    the fall of communism
  • The development of an evaluation plan for programs to reduce teenage
  • A national study of judges' preparation for decisions about the admissibility
    of scientific evidence during trials.
  • Comparative studies of how religion is regulated in nations around
    the world, including China, Japan, Australia, Western European nations,
    as well as North America
  • Identification and summary of educational programs in the United States on
    scientific evidence for judges
  • An examination of the various roles, both on the bench and in the community,
    played by judges in juvenile and family courts
  • Some personal and professional effects of participation in and completion of
    the Master of Judicial Studies Program at the University of Nevada
  • A study of the introduction given by judges to voir dire in capital cases, with
    a focus on factors likely to affect candor of prospective jurors
  • An examination of the impact of pretrial media coverage of capital cases on
    awareness of the case, beliefs and knowledge about the crime and the
    defendant, and judgment about the guilt of the defendant

Public Education

In addition to the on-going series of Distinguished Speakers and Brown-Bag Colloquia (see annual reports under "Reports and Publications" on this website), the Center has undertaken major educational, single-event programs.

In November, 2000 the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies and The National Judicial College co-sponsored a very successful panel forum titled The Death Penalty: Yes? No? Maybe? The forum was moderated by Hon. V. Robert Payant, President Emeritus of The National Judicial College. After an introduction to the topic by Center Director Dr. Ronald C. Dillehay, expert panel members discussed their views on the fairness, effectiveness, ethics, morality, and legality of the death penalty. The expert panel members were Reverend Onie Cooper, NAACP; Ms. Frankie Sue Del Papa, Attorney General, State of Nevada; Father Charles Durante, Chaplain, Bishop Minogue High School; N. Patrick Flanagan, Esq. of Hale, Lane, Peek, Dennison, Howard, & Anderson; Hon. Mike Fondi, Judge (retired), First Judicial District; Mr. Richard Gammick, District Attorney, Washoe County; Mr. David Sarnowski, Deputy Attorney General, State of Nevada; Professor Richard Siegel, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, UNR and representative of the American Civil Liberties Union; Ms. Maizie Pusich, Office of the Public Defender, Washoe County; Mr. John Slansky, Assistant Director of Prisons, State of Nevada; and Mr. Richard Wyett, Parole Board Chair, State of Nevada.

An audience of approximately 200 people filled The National Judicial College's Tom C. Clark Auditorium to capacity, indicating the importance of this issue to our community. Those who attended were rewarded with an animated discussion of this highly controversial and emotional topic, addressed from many perspectives due to the broad expertise of the panel members.


Spring activities during 2002 at the Center included the Nevada Criminal Law Symposium, created for the major criminal law administrators, policy makers, and criminal justice system figures in the state.

On May 8 leading figures in Nevada's criminal justice system and other stakeholders from political, religious, and academic organizations met to examine important aspects of the administration of criminal justice in Nevada. More information about this successful Symposium is available by clicking here.


In its brief existence the Grant Sawyer Center has supported a number of doctoral dissertations on justice-related topics. The students earning these degrees, all of which are from the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology, are the following:

Dissertations supported by the Center: Shirley A. Dobbin (1998). The Social Production of Rape Trauma Syndrome: The Masking and Management of a Syndrome Claim. (Advisors: James Richardson & Jerry Ginsburg)

Sophia I. Gatowski (1998). Constructing Expertise: Judges' Decision
making about Expert Testimony. (Advisors: Jerry Ginsburg & James Richardson)

Gary R. Giewat (2001). Juror Honesty and Candor During Voir Dire Questioning. (Advisor: Ronald Dillehay)

Craig New (2002). A Chain of Consequences: An Information Processing Model of Pretrial Prejudgment. (Advisor: Ronald Dillehay)

Bryan Edelman (2003). Misguided Discretion: The Hydraulic Processes Model and Juror Sentencing in Capital Trials. (Advisor: Ronald Dillehay)

Steve Son (2004). Adequacy of Voir Dire Questioning for Selecting an Impartial Jury. (Advisor: Ronald Dillehay)

Veronica Dahir (2005). The Effects of Mode of Presentation and Argument Quality on Comprehension, Memory, and Decision-making. (Advisor: James Richardson

Mara Merlino (2005) The Social Construction of the Admissibility of Expert Testimony after Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (advisor Colleen Murray).

Dissertations tied to justice themes that have been supervised by the Director of the Center or faculty closely allied with the Center:

Herman R. Foushee (1996). Cultivation of Cult Stereotypes: A Content Analysis of Broadcast Media Coverage of the Branch Davidians. (Advisor: James Richardson)

Paula J. Barry-Gabier (2002). Predicting Attitude Intensity, Certainty, and Subjective Knowledge: What Role Do Procedural Justice Expectations Play in Subsequent Attitude Strength. (Advisor: Ronald Dillehay)

Dionne M. Maxwell (2003). Operating Outside the Rules: An Examination of the Social Psychological Factors Affecting Jury Nullification Tendencies in a Decision-Making Context. (Supervisor: Ronald C. Dillehay)

Sally A. Dittloff. (2003). The Moderating Effect of Differing Levels of Ethnic Subgroup Identification on Judgments of Procedural and Distributive Justice in Assessing Experiences with Law Enforcement Agencies. (Supervisor: Ronald C. Dillehay)

Roselyn K. Polk. (2003). An Empirical Analysis of Defendant, Victim, and Crime Characteristics as Predictors in Prosecutorial Decisions to Charge Death. (Supervisor: Ronald C. Dillehay)

University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557

(775) 784-1110
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