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Full-Text Articles in Law

Hocus Pocus: Modern-Day Manifestations Of Witch Hunts, Brie D. Sherwin Oct 2023

Hocus Pocus: Modern-Day Manifestations Of Witch Hunts, Brie D. Sherwin

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

Witch hunts have never been about facts or evidence; rather they are about beliefs often fueled by fear. Witch hunts of the past persecuted the powerless – typically women or those who did not fit into “societal norms.” More recently, the term “witch hunt” has reappeared with great fervor in the political arena, used by the powerful to generate fear that serves a distinct political narrative that those in power are the true victims. Tweets, sound bites, and political speeches rife with accusations of a “witch hunt” reflect a modern usage which has served to delegitimize the historical context of …


Embracing Deference, Edward K. Cheng, Elodie O. Currier, Payton B. Hampton Feb 2023

Embracing Deference, Edward K. Cheng, Elodie O. Currier, Payton B. Hampton

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

A fundamental conceptual problem has long dogged discussions about scientific and other expert evidence in the courtroom. In American law, the problem was most famously posed by Judge Learned Hand, who asked: "[H]ow can the jury judge between two statements each founded upon an experience confessedly foreign in kind to their own? It is just because they are incompetent for such a task that the expert is necessary at all." This puzzle, sometimes known as the "expert paradox," is quite general. It applies not only to the jury as factfinder, but also to the judge as gate- keeper under the …


Credibility In Empirical Legal Analysis, Hillel J. Bavli Jan 2022

Credibility In Empirical Legal Analysis, Hillel J. Bavli

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Empirical analysis is central in both legal scholarship and litigation, but it is not credible. Researchers can manipulate data to arrive at any conclusion they wish to obtain. A practice known as data fishing—searching for and selectively reporting methods and results that are favorable to the researcher—entirely invalidates a study’s results by giving rise to false positives and false impressions. Nevertheless, it is prevalent in law, leading to false claims, incorrect verdicts, and destructive policy. In this article, I examine the harm that data fishing in empirical legal research causes. I then build on methods in the sciences to develop …


The Consensus Rule: A New Approach To Scientific Evidence, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2022

The Consensus Rule: A New Approach To Scientific Evidence, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Founded on good intentions but unrealistic expectations, the dominant Daubert framework for handling expert and scientific evidence should be scrapped. Daubert asks judges and jurors to make substantively expert determinations, a task they are epistemically incompetent to perform as laypersons. As an alternative, this Article proposes a new framework for handling expert evidence. It draws from the social and philosophical literature on expertise and begins with a basic question: How can laypersons make intelligent decisions about expert topics? From there, it builds its evidentiary approach, which ultimately results in an inference rule focused on expert communities. Specifically, when dealing with …


Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact Of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence In Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments, Sonia M. Gipson Rankin Apr 2021

Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact Of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence In Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments, Sonia M. Gipson Rankin

Washington and Lee Law Review

Issues of racial inequality and violence are front and center today, as are issues surrounding artificial intelligence (“AI”). This Article, written by a law professor who is also a computer scientist, takes a deep dive into understanding how and why hacked and rogue AI creates unlawful and unfair outcomes, particularly for persons of color.

Black Americans are disproportionally featured in criminal justice, and their stories are obfuscated. The seemingly endless back-to-back murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and heartbreakingly countless others have finally shaken the United States from its slumbering journey towards intentional criminal justice reform. Myths about …


Junk Science At Sentencing, Maneka Sinha Jan 2021

Junk Science At Sentencing, Maneka Sinha

Faculty Scholarship

Junk science used in criminal trials has contributed to hundreds of wrongful convictions. But the problem is much worse than that. Junk science does not only harm criminal defendants who go to trial, but also the overwhelming majority of defendants—over ninety-five percent—who plead guilty, skip trial, and proceed straight to sentencing.

Scientific, technical, and other specialized evidence (“STS evidence”) is used regularly, and with increasing frequency, at sentencing. Despite this, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and its state equivalents—which help filter unreliable STS evidence at trials—do not apply at the critical sentencing stage. In fact, at sentencing, no meaningful admissibility …


Commentary: Scientific Evidence - From A "Deferent" To A "Novice" Judge: Comments On Zoppellari's Paper, Marko Novak Jun 2020

Commentary: Scientific Evidence - From A "Deferent" To A "Novice" Judge: Comments On Zoppellari's Paper, Marko Novak

OSSA Conference Archive

No abstract provided.


Just How Reliable Is The Human Memory? The Admissibility Of Recovered Repressed Memories In Criminal Proceedings, Shannon L. Malone Jan 2020

Just How Reliable Is The Human Memory? The Admissibility Of Recovered Repressed Memories In Criminal Proceedings, Shannon L. Malone

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Scientific Evidence Admissibility: Improving Judicial Proceedings To Decrease Erroneous Outcomes, Leica Kwong May 2019

Scientific Evidence Admissibility: Improving Judicial Proceedings To Decrease Erroneous Outcomes, Leica Kwong

Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science

In the United States, Federal Rules of Evidence 702, the Frye and Daubert standards govern the admissibility of scientific evidence in the courtroom. Some states adopted Frye while others adopted Daubert, causing varying judicial outcomes. The verdicts in some cases may be erroneous due to a nationally used standard. Frye has broad criteria of requiring scientific evidence to be generally accepted. While Daubert contains more requirements for the evidence to be admissible, such as peer review, publication, and scientific principles. Daubert, alongside FRE 702, provides a thorough guideline for trial judges who have the gatekeeping role to decide admissibility aiming …


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 being seen …


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 …


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 …


Controlling The Jury-Teaching Function, Richard D. Friedman Apr 2018

Controlling The Jury-Teaching Function, Richard D. Friedman

Articles

When evidence with a scientific basis is offered, two fundamental questions arise. First, should it be admitted? Second, if so, how should it be assessed? There are numerous participants who might play a role in deciding these questions—the jury (on the second question only), the parties (through counsel), expert witnesses on each side, the trial court, the forces controlling the judicial system (which include, but are not limited to, the appellate courts), and the scientific establishment. In this Article, I will suggest that together, the last two—the forces controlling the judicial system and the scientific establishment—have a large role to …


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


Scientific Trials--In The Laboratories, Not The Courts, Nicholas Bagley, Aaron E. Carroll, Pieter A. Cohen Jan 2018

Scientific Trials--In The Laboratories, Not The Courts, Nicholas Bagley, Aaron E. Carroll, Pieter A. Cohen

Articles

In 2015, one of us published a peer-reviewed study, together with colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, replicating prior research from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detecting a designer stimulant, β-methylphenylethylamine, in sports, weight loss, and “cognitive function” supplements sold in the United States. The confirmatory study prompted the FDA to take enforcement action against companies selling the stimulant as a dietary ingredient. One of the companies that received an FDA warning letter sued the study’s authors for $200 million in damages for libel, claiming, without supporting scientific evidence, that multiple statements in the article were …


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 Virtue Of Process: Finding The Legitimacy Of Judicial Fact-Finding In Personal Injury Litigation, Nayha Acharya May 2017

The Virtue Of Process: Finding The Legitimacy Of Judicial Fact-Finding In Personal Injury Litigation, Nayha Acharya

PhD Dissertations

This thesis is an inquiry into the legitimacy of judicial fact-finding in civil litigation. Judges make authoritative factual findings in conditions of uncertainty and the decision-making process cannot, and does not, guarantee the accuracy of those outcomes. Given the inevitable risk of error, on what basis is the authority of judicial fact-finding legitimate? This project provides a framework of procedural legitimacy that bridges two unavoidable aspects of adjudication: factual indeterminacy and the need for justifiably authoritative dispute resolution. This work draws of the legal theories of Lon Fuller and Jurgen Habermas to substantiate the notion of procedural legitimacy in the …


Hypothesis Testing In Law And Forensic Science: A Memorandum, David H. Kaye Jan 2017

Hypothesis Testing In Law And Forensic Science: A Memorandum, David H. Kaye

Journal Articles

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC), was established to promote and develop forensic-science standards based on sound scientific principles. One of the first standards to be approved deals with declaring fragments of glass to be either distinguishable or indistinguishable in their chemical composition. This determination is important when it is suspected that small fragments associated with a defendant came from the scene of a crime involving broken glass. Because of instrumental measurement error, even fragments with identical elemental concentrations will display some differences. To account for measurement error, the standard uses statistical hypothesis tests that presume …


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 underway …


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 …


Sleuthing Scientific Evidence Information On The Internet, Diana Botluk Jan 2016

Sleuthing Scientific Evidence Information On The Internet, Diana Botluk

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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 primary …


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 what—if any—steps …


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 mtDNA …