Monday, August 21, 2006

Science and Law Resources

Last week, the Science & Law Blog was launched.

In the introductory post, the authors, all law professors, explained that their blog is devoted to "the single question of how does, and how should, courts and policy makers use the more or less certain findings (or lack of findings) from science when making decisions. On the law side, therefore, not only are evidentiary matters of concern, but this question implicates substantive areas of law, including, but not limited to, torts, criminal, administrative, and constitutional. On the science side, subjects of interest will include, but are not limited to, psychology, sociology, political science, economics, toxicology, and epidemiology."

This is a welcome initiative as lawyers and judges - many of whom are in the profession because of an aversion to math and science - find themselves increasingly at a disadvantage where scientific evidence is at the heart of a case.

Among some of the existing resources on the subject of "science for lawyers" are:
  • Daubert on the Web: this U.S. web site tries to track every American Federal appellate decision and many major state appellate decisions on the admissibility of scientific expert testimony in the U.S. courts. "Daubert" refers to the key Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (92-102), 509 U.S. 579 (1993) ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States on the admissibility of expert evidence
  • Expert Evidence in Criminal Law: The Scientific Approach (book by Alan B. Gold, Irwin Law, 2003): "The explosion of expert evidence in our courtrooms in the last several decades has been accompanied by increasing concerns about 'junk science' and 'pseudo-science'. After many years of debate within the legal and scientific communities regarding the nature and extent of junk science, the US Supreme Court, in the 1993 landmark case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. articulated an entirely new set of criteria based on the scientific method for the admissibility of expert testimony. In 2000 the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. J.-L. J. referenced Daubert as a relevant authority and expressly adopted the same elements of analysis. Expert evidence in both countries must now obey the rules of science to be admissible. Science lessons for lawyers and judges have now been mandated by the highest courts in both Canada and the United States. Expert Evidence in Criminal Law: The Scientific Approach by Alan D. Gold is the first and only Canadian book on expert evidence entirely from a scientific perspective."
  • Modern scientific evidence : the law and science of expert testimony (by David L. Faigman et al., Thomson West, 2005, annual): "Detailed guide for judges and lawyers following the scientific evidence issues raised by the Daubert ruling, helps assess the validity of an expert’s scientific methodology. Challenges the use of "generally accepted" scientific ideas when ruling on admissibility or managing expert witnesses in state and federal courts. Prepares trial attorneys to explain scientific concepts during admissibility arguments, and confidently elicit or challenge expert testimony during trial. This post-Daubert guide discusses fundamental legal and scientific principles, scientific research methods, statistical proof, and multiple regression".
  • Laws of Men and Laws of Nature: The History of Scientific Expert Testimony in England and America (by Tal Golan, Harvard University Press, 2004): "With deep learning and wry humor, Tal Golan tells stories of courtroom drama and confusion and media jeering on both sides of the Atlantic, until the start of the twenty-first century, as the courts still search for ways that will allow them to distinguish between good and bad science".
  • Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology (Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University): "Since its founding, the Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Technology has sought to contribute to the legal system's response to the pervasive and increasing challenges posed by new scientific discoveries and their technological applications. Largely lay decision makers -- judges, juries, legislators, and public administrators -- must often resolve important technical disputes, or establish new policies grounded on complex, often contested, scientific matters, relatively quickly and on the basis of imperfect information. The Center seeks to improve the quality of law and public policy affecting science and technology and supports work in an important reciprocal vein: the scientific study and understanding of law, legal institutions and legal process". The Center edits Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology, an influential refereed journal, considered one of the oldest journals in the field of law and science. The site links to dozens of other journals dealing with science and technology issues and the law

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:14 pm

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