Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Rep. Tom Emmer Urges the DOJ to Slam the Constitution, Embrace Junk Science

WASHINGTON / December 1, 2020 – Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota sent a letter to the Department of Justice last week urging implementation of so-called “trauma-informed” investigations, as outlined in Emmer’s proposed Abby Honold Act (1). “Trauma-informed” investigations have been criticized as ignoring constitutionally based due process protections and ridiculed as inconsistent with scientific research.

One of Americans’ most important due process rights is the right of an accused person to an impartial and fair investigation. But a “trauma-informed” investigation encroaches on investigator impartiality in three ways:

  1. The complainant is presumed to have experienced a serious, life-threatening assault.
  2. Any gaps or inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony are automatically ascribed to the “trauma” of the incident.
  3. The investigator does not consider the possibility of a false allegation, alcohol involvement, or mental illness.

The bias of “trauma-informed” is so transparent that the accuser is actually referred to as a “victim,” not a “complainant.”

Numerous scientists have discredited the scientific basis of “trauma-informed” investigations. Bhatt and Brandon summarized the research this way: “The impacts of trauma on memories and recall are widely variable. The stress accompanying and resulting from trauma may produce strong memories, impair memories, have no effect on memories, or increase the possibility of false memories.” (2)

In other words, experiencing a stressful event may actually enhance a person’s recall of the details surrounding the event.

Last week a New York appellate court issued a ruling against the University of Albany. In a direct rebuke of trauma-informed methods, Judge Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald concluded, “An impartial investigation performed by bias-free investigators is the substantive foundation of the entire administrative proceeding.” (3)

Journalist Emily Yoffe has derided trauma-informed ideology as “junk science.” (4) More information on the fallacies of “trauma-informed” is available on the CPI website (5).

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity urges Rep. Emmer to retract his letter to the Department of Justice, and instead ask the DOJ to assure investigations are conducted in an impartial manner that upholds the presumption of innocence.