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Bringing Better Science to the Courtroom

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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The Expert WitnessesImage by maveric2003 via Flickr

As long as I’m following the lead of Lawrence Solum at the Legal Theory Blog, I want to recommend the following new article: Judicial Analysis of Complex & Cutting-Edge Science in the Daubert Era: Epidemiologic Risk Assessment as a Test Case for Reform Strategies by Andrew Jurs. From the abstract:

One way to bring more science back into the courthouse, or to the judge’s chambers, is to permit the appointment of a science consultant under a modified Federal Rule of Evidence 706. For an even smaller subset of more complicated cases, advanced science procedures are needed. A science panel approach, using a modified arbitration panel format, or a centralized court of scientific jurisdiction would offer significant advantages to the current Daubert system. Other discrete individual reforms solve other weaknesses in current Daubert analysis.

This is one I need to read through more carefully, because I think the issue of brining better scientific understanding into the judicial system is an important one. After all, even the most scientifically-literate judge cannot really be expected to have a full understanding of all areas of science. I also believe that, when it comes to expert testimony, our adversarial system (with “dueling experts”) can let the court down. Thus, a different, more independent process for evaluating science would be beneficial.

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