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Scientific evidence

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Full-Text Articles in Evidence

Brain Scans As Evidence: Truths, Proofs, Lies, And Lessons, Owen D. Jones, Francis X. Shen Apr 2019

Brain Scans As Evidence: Truths, Proofs, Lies, And Lessons, Owen D. Jones, Francis X. Shen

Owen Jones

This contribution to the Brain Sciences in the Courtroom Symposium identifies and discusses issues important to admissibility determinations when courts confront brain-scan evidence. Through the vehicle of the landmark 2010 federal criminal trial U.S. v. Semrau (which considered, for the first time, the admissibility of brain scans for lie detection purposes) this article highlights critical evidentiary issues involving: 1) experimental design; 2) ecological and external validity; 3) subject compliance with researcher instructions; 4) false positives; and 5) drawing inferences about individuals from group data. The article’s lessons are broadly applicable to the new wave of neurolaw cases now ...


The Disappointing History Of Science In The Courtroom: Frye, Daubert, And The Ongoing Crisis Of “Junk Science” In Criminal Trials, Jim Hilbert Jan 2019

The Disappointing History Of Science In The Courtroom: Frye, Daubert, And The Ongoing Crisis Of “Junk Science” In Criminal Trials, Jim Hilbert

Faculty Scholarship

Twenty-five years ago, the Supreme Court decided one of the most important cases concerning the use of science in courtrooms. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals , the Court addressed widespread concerns that courts were admitting unreliable scientific evidence. In addition, lower courts lacked clarity on the status of the previous landmark case for courtroom science, Frye v. United States. In the years leading up to the Daubert decision, policy-makers and legal observers sounded the alarm about the rise in the use of "junk science" by so-called expert witnesses. Some critics went so far as to suggest that American businesses and ...


Cabining Judicial Discretion Over Forensic Evidence With A New Special Relevance Rule, Emma F.E. Shoucair Oct 2018

Cabining Judicial Discretion Over Forensic Evidence With A New Special Relevance Rule, Emma F.E. Shoucair

Michigan Law Review

Modern forensic evidence suffers from a number of flaws, including insufficient scientific grounding, exaggerated testimony, lack of uniform best practices, and an inefficacious standard for admission that regularly allows judges to admit scientifically unsound evidence. This Note discusses these problems, lays out the current landscape of forensic science reform, and suggests the addition of a new special relevance rule to the Federal Rules of Evidence (and similar rules in state evidence codes). This proposed rule would cabin judicial discretion to admit non-DNA forensic evidence by barring prosecutorial introduction of such evidence in criminal trials absent a competing defense expert or ...


Life After Daubert V. Merrell Dow: Maine As A Case Law Laboratory For Evidence Rule 702 Without Frye, Leigh Stephens Mccarthy Apr 2018

Life After Daubert V. Merrell Dow: Maine As A Case Law Laboratory For Evidence Rule 702 Without Frye, Leigh Stephens Mccarthy

Maine Law Review

In reaching its recent decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the United States Supreme Court grappled not with case law but with fundamental questions about the nature of science and its role in law. The court in Daubert addressed the problematic issue of admissibility of expert scientific testimony. In the end the Court rejected as an exclusionary rule the venerable standard set in 1923 by Frye v. United States. Frye held that scientific testimony was to be excluded unless it had gained “general acceptance” in its field. Daubert held that Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence ...


Scientific Evidence And Forensic Science Since Daubert: Maine Decides To Sit Out On The Dance, Thomas L. Bohan Dec 2017

Scientific Evidence And Forensic Science Since Daubert: Maine Decides To Sit Out On The Dance, Thomas L. Bohan

Maine Law Review

In 1993, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that with the federal adoption of statutory rules of evidence in 1975, the common law rule for determining admissibility of scientific testimony was superseded, and that thenceforth admissibility of scientific testimony was to be determined solely by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (Rule 702). The Frye standard had been adopted in one form or another by most of the federal circuits and by many of the state courts during the 70 years preceding Daubert. Referred to as the “general acceptance” standard, the Frye standard--although adopted in a variety of forms--had ...


The Academy Standards Board For Firearms And Toolmarks, Robert M. Sanger Aug 2016

The Academy Standards Board For Firearms And Toolmarks, Robert M. Sanger

Robert M. Sanger

This article will discuss the Academy Standards Board Consensus Body for Forensics in the area of Firearms and Toolmarks, and its role in the scheme of standards, commissions and entities doing this type of work.


Ultracrepidarianism In Forensic Science: The Hair Evidence Debacle, David H. Kaye Mar 2016

Ultracrepidarianism In Forensic Science: The Hair Evidence Debacle, David H. Kaye

David Kaye

For over 130 years, scientific sleuths have been inspecting hairs under microscopes. Late in 2012, the FBI, the Innocence Project, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers joined forces to review thousands of microscopic hair comparisons performed by FBI examiners over several of those decades. The results have been astounding. Based on the first few hundred cases in which hairs were said to match, it appears that examiners “exceeded the limits of science” in over 90% of their reports or testimony. The disclosure of this statistic has led to charges that the FBI “faked an entire field of forensic ...


How Good Is Good Enough?: Expert Evidence Under Daubert And Kuhmo, David H. Kaye, David L. Faigman, Michael J. Saks, Joseph Sanders Mar 2016

How Good Is Good Enough?: Expert Evidence Under Daubert And Kuhmo, David H. Kaye, David L. Faigman, Michael J. Saks, Joseph Sanders

David Kaye

This essay is a response to Professor Edward Imwinkelried's article, "Should the Courts Incorporate a Best Evidence Rule into the Standard Determining the Admissibility of Scientific Testimony?: Enough is Enough When it is not the Best." The authors have two basic points. First, the authors wish to make it clear that they never proposed the "best evidence rule" that he so vigorously attacks, and they think his suggestion that they did so is strained. Second, they wish to reiterate that courts sometimes should do more than they have to ensure that expert testimony is reasonably sound. The important debate ...


Confronting Science: Expert Evidence And The Confrontation Clause, David H. Kaye, Jennifer L. Mnookin Mar 2016

Confronting Science: Expert Evidence And The Confrontation Clause, David H. Kaye, Jennifer L. Mnookin

David Kaye

In Crawford v Washington, the Supreme Court substantially changed its understanding of how the Confrontation Clause applies to hearsay evidence. Since then, the Court has issued three bitterly contested expert-evidence-related Confrontation Clause decisions, and each one has generated at least as many questions as answers. This article analyzes this trilogy of cases, especially the most recent, Williams v Illinois.

In Williams, the Court issued a bewildering array of opinions in which majority support for admitting the opinion of a DNA analyst about tests that she did not perform was awkwardly knitted together out of several incompatible doctrinal bases. The most ...


Amicus Brief: Kumho Tire V. Carmichael, Neil Vidmar, Richard Lempert, Shari Diamond, Valerie Hans, Stephan Landsman, Robert Maccoun, Joseph Sanders, Harmon Hosch, Saul Kassin, Marc Galanter, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen Daniels, Edith Greene, Joanne Martin, Steven Penrod, James Richardson, Larry Heuer, Irwin Horowitz Dec 2015

Amicus Brief: Kumho Tire V. Carmichael, Neil Vidmar, Richard Lempert, Shari Diamond, Valerie Hans, Stephan Landsman, Robert Maccoun, Joseph Sanders, Harmon Hosch, Saul Kassin, Marc Galanter, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen Daniels, Edith Greene, Joanne Martin, Steven Penrod, James Richardson, Larry Heuer, Irwin Horowitz

Robert MacCoun

This brief addresses the issue of jury performance and jury responses to expert testimony. It reviews and summaries a substantial body of research evidence about jury behavior that has been produced over the past quarter century. The great weight of that evidence challenges the view that jurors abdicate their responsibilities as fact finders when faced with expert evidence or that they are pro-plaintiff, anti-defendant, and anti-business.

The Petitioners and amici on behalf of petitioners make a number of overlapping, but empirically unsupported, assertions about jury behavior in response to expert testimony, namely that juries are frequently incapable of critically evaluation ...


Admissibility Of Scientific Evidence Under Daubert: The Fatal Flaws Of ‘Falsifiability’ And ‘Falsification’, Barbara P. Billauer Esq Dec 2015

Admissibility Of Scientific Evidence Under Daubert: The Fatal Flaws Of ‘Falsifiability’ And ‘Falsification’, Barbara P. Billauer Esq

barbara p billauer esq

Abstract: The Daubert mantra demands that judges, acting as gatekeepers, prevent para, pseudo or ‘bad’ science from infiltrating the courtroom. To do so, the Judges must first determine what “science” is? And then, what ‘good science’ is? It is submitted that Daubert is seriously polluted with the notions of Karl Popper who sets ‘falsifiability’ and ‘falsification’ as the demarcation line for that determination. This inapt philosophy has intractably infected case law, leading to bad decisions immortalized as stare decisis. Among other problems, is the intolerance of Popper’s system for multiple causation, a key component of toxic- torts. Thus, the ...


Daubert Debunked: A History Of Legal Retrogression A History Of Legal Retrogression And The Need To Reassess ‘Scientific Admissibility’, Barbara P. Billauer Esq Sep 2015

Daubert Debunked: A History Of Legal Retrogression A History Of Legal Retrogression And The Need To Reassess ‘Scientific Admissibility’, Barbara P. Billauer Esq

barbara p billauer esq

Abstract: With ‘novel’ scientific discoveries accelerating at an unrelenting pace, the need for accessible and implementable standards for evaluating the legal admissibility of scientific evidence becomes more and more crucial. As science changes, legal standards for evaluating ‘novel’ science must be plastic enough to respond to fast-moving changes. This, ostensibly, was the Daubert objective. Since it was decided in 1993, however, Daubert’s impact has been hotly contested -- with plaintiffs and defendants each claiming the decision unfairly favors the other side. New approaches are constantly suggested to deal with the perceived impact, although there is no uniform consensus of exactly ...


Science On Trial, Valerie P. Hans Jun 2015

Science On Trial, Valerie P. Hans

Valerie P. Hans

The increasing complexity of both criminal and civil jury trials raises a host of issues for lawyers and judges. For the litigator, the first question is whether a jury can be trusted with a case that turns on highly technical evidence. For the trial judge, there are decisions about the admissibility of expert testimony, whether it is based on sound science, and whether a jury is likely to be misled by scientific claims. Should the judge permit jury innovations such as note taking, question asking, and juror discussions of evidence during the trial, hoping to increase jury comprehension of the ...


Can Jury Trial Innovations Improve Juror Understanding Of Dna Evidence?, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye Jun 2015

Can Jury Trial Innovations Improve Juror Understanding Of Dna Evidence?, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye

Valerie P. Hans

A single spot of blood on a pink windowsill will tell investigators who broke a windowpane, turned a lock, and kidnapped 2-year-old Molly Evans from her bedroom in the middle of the night. An expert witness will testify that the DNA profile of the blood evidence recovered from the windowsill was entered into CODIS, an electronic database of DNA profiles. That process yielded a “hit,” identifying the defendant as the most likely source of the blood inside Molly’s room. But will jurors be able to understand the expert’s intricate analysis and use it to reach a verdict? And ...


Testing Jury Reforms, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, David H. Kaye, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Jun 2015

Testing Jury Reforms, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, David H. Kaye, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Valerie P. Hans

DNA evidence has become a key law enforcement tool and is increasingly presented in criminal trials in Delaware and elsewhere. The integrity of the criminal trial process turns upon the jury's ability to understand DNA evidence and to evaluate properly the testimony of experts. How well do they do? Can we assist them in the process?


Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Jun 2015

Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Valerie P. Hans

This article describes parts of an unusually realistic experiment on the comprehension of expert testimony on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing in a criminal trial for robbery. Specifically, we examine how jurors who responded to summonses for jury duty evaluated portions of videotaped testimony involving probabilities and statistics. Although some jurors showed susceptibility to classic fallacies in interpreting conditional probabilities, the jurors as a whole were not overwhelmed by a 99.98% exclusion probability that the prosecution presented. Cognitive errors favoring the defense were more prevalent than ones favoring the prosecution. These findings lend scant support to the legal argument that ...


Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans Jun 2015

Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans

Valerie P. Hans

The rise in scientific evidence offered in American jury trials, along with court rulings thrusting judges into the business of assessing the soundness of scientific evidence, have produced challenges for judge and jury alike. Many judges have taken up the duty of becoming “amateur scientists.” But what about juries? Surely they too could benefit from assistance as they attempt to master and apply complex testimony about scientific matters during the course of a trial. Concerns about the jury’s ability to understand, critically evaluate, and employ scientific evidence in deciding complex trials have led to many suggestions for reform. This ...


Science Is Not Waiting For The Courts, Robert Sanger Mar 2015

Science Is Not Waiting For The Courts, Robert Sanger

Robert M. Sanger

The Forensic Science Community and the federal government are moving far beyond the courts in an effort to improve the quality of scientific evidence and expert testimony in the courts. Major events in forensics have caused a top to bottom reconsideration of what should count as expert testimony. Last month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) convened the first set of meetings of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC). This is a forward-looking approach to forensic science.

The first OSAC meetings were held on February 16 and 17, 2015, at ...


The Admissibility Of Trueallele: A Computerized Dna Interpretation System, Katherine L. Moss Mar 2015

The Admissibility Of Trueallele: A Computerized Dna Interpretation System, Katherine L. Moss

Washington and Lee Law Review

No abstract provided.


Dumping Daubert, Popping Popper And Falsifying Falsifiability: A Re-Assessment Of First Principles, Barbara P. Billauer Esq Feb 2015

Dumping Daubert, Popping Popper And Falsifying Falsifiability: A Re-Assessment Of First Principles, Barbara P. Billauer Esq

barbara p billauer esq

Abstract: The Daubert mantra demands that judges, acting as gatekeepers, prevent para, pseudo or bad science from infiltrating the courtroom. To do so, the Judges must first determine what is ‘science’ and what is ‘good science.’ It is submitted that Daubert is deeply polluted with the notions of Karl Popper who sets ‘falsifiability’ and ‘falsification’ as the demarcation line for that determination. This philosophy has intractably infected case law, leading to bad decisions immortalized as stare decisis, and an unworkable system of decision-making, which negatively impacts litigant expectations. Among other problems is the intolerance of Popper’s system for multiple ...


Ultracrepidarianism In Forensic Science: The Hair Evidence Debacle, David H. Kaye Jan 2015

Ultracrepidarianism In Forensic Science: The Hair Evidence Debacle, David H. Kaye

Journal Articles

For over 130 years, scientific sleuths have been inspecting hairs under microscopes. Late in 2012, the FBI, the Innocence Project, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers joined forces to review thousands of microscopic hair comparisons performed by FBI examiners over several of those decades. The results have been astounding. Based on the first few hundred cases in which hairs were said to match, it appears that examiners “exceeded the limits of science” in over 90% of their reports or testimony. The disclosure of this statistic has led to charges that the FBI “faked an entire field of forensic ...


Schultz V. Akzo Nobel Paints: “The Rest Of The Story” Reveals Limited Impact Of Expert Testimony Decision, Richard O. Faulk Sep 2013

Schultz V. Akzo Nobel Paints: “The Rest Of The Story” Reveals Limited Impact Of Expert Testimony Decision, Richard O. Faulk

Richard Faulk

Certainly, a number of lawyers from both sides of the bar believe that the Schultz decision is important. A review of the record in Schultz, however, reveals a relatively easy explanation for the decision—one that undermines its value as precedent. To understand why this is so, we must go back to the district court’s decision to grant Akzo Nobel’s motion for summary judgment and, with apologies to Paul Harvey, appreciate the “rest of the story.”


Adaptation And The Courtroom: Judging Climate Science, Kirsten Engel, Jonathan Overpeck Sep 2013

Adaptation And The Courtroom: Judging Climate Science, Kirsten Engel, Jonathan Overpeck

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Climate science is increasingly showing up in courtroom disputes over the duty to adapt to climate change. While judges play a critical role in evaluating scientific evidence, they are not apt to be familiar with the basic methods of climate science nor with the role played by peer review, publication, and training of climate scientists. This Article is an attempt to educate the bench and the bar on the basics of the discipline of climate science, which we contend is a distinct scientific discipline. We propose a series of principles to guide a judge’s evaluation of the reliability and ...


Junk Philosophy Of Science?: The Paradox Of Expertise And Interdisciplinarity In Federal Courts, David S. Caudill, Richard E. Redding Jul 2013

Junk Philosophy Of Science?: The Paradox Of Expertise And Interdisciplinarity In Federal Courts, David S. Caudill, Richard E. Redding

David S Caudill

No abstract provided.


Developments In The Law Of Scientific Evidence: The Admissibility Of Polygraph Evidence, Sheila K. Hyatt Apr 2013

Developments In The Law Of Scientific Evidence: The Admissibility Of Polygraph Evidence, Sheila K. Hyatt

Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary

No abstract provided.


Confronting Science: Expert Evidence And The Confrontation Clause, David H. Kaye, Jennifer L. Mnookin Jan 2013

Confronting Science: Expert Evidence And The Confrontation Clause, David H. Kaye, Jennifer L. Mnookin

Journal Articles

In Crawford v Washington, the Supreme Court substantially changed its understanding of how the Confrontation Clause applies to hearsay evidence. Since then, the Court has issued three bitterly contested expert-evidence-related Confrontation Clause decisions, and each one has generated at least as many questions as answers. This article analyzes this trilogy of cases, especially the most recent, Williams v Illinois.

In Williams, the Court issued a bewildering array of opinions in which majority support for admitting the opinion of a DNA analyst about tests that she did not perform was awkwardly knitted together out of several incompatible doctrinal bases. The most ...


Being Pragmatic About Forensic Linguistics, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2013

Being Pragmatic About Forensic Linguistics, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article aims to provide some legal context to the Authorship Attribution Workshop (“conference”). In particular, I want to offer some pragmatic observations on what courts will likely demand of forensic linguistics experts and tentatively suggest what the field should aspire to in both the short and long run.


Speaking Science To Law, Deborah Hussey Freeland Dec 2012

Speaking Science To Law, Deborah Hussey Freeland

Deborah M. Hussey Freeland

involving a strong scientific consensus, the powerful qualities of scientific knowledge are easily lost in translation. Moreover, even prominent scientists who are committed to providing accurate information to legal fact-finders may suffer reputational harm simply for participating in an adversarial process.

This article analyzes the connection between law and science through the expert witness from the perspectives of epistemology and cross-cultural communication, focusing on the distinct ways in which scientists and lawyers know, value and express their knowledge. When a lawyer meets with a scientific expert witness, more confusion attends their interaction than either likely realizes. Linguistic translation is necessary--but ...


The 2009 Nas Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2012

The 2009 Nas Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

In February 29, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (29). The popular press immediately trumpeted the report’s release, with headlines such as (1) “Report Urges Overhaul of Crime Lab System,” (2) “Real-life Police Forensics Don’t Resemble ‘CSI’: Reliability is ‘Low or Non-existent,’ Report Finds” and (3) “Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs.”

Within three months of its publication, Justice Scalia cited the report in a Supreme Court decision, writing: “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation ...


Kumho Tire Co. V. Carmichael: The Supreme Court Follows Up On The Daubert Test, Martin A. Schwartz Jun 2011

Kumho Tire Co. V. Carmichael: The Supreme Court Follows Up On The Daubert Test, Martin A. Schwartz

Martin A. Schwartz

No abstract provided.