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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 156180 Find in a Library
Title: Breaking the Chain of Proofs: Congress's Pending Law Reforms Would Change the Law of Evidence
Journal: Judges Journal  Volume:34  Issue:2  Dated:(Spring 1995)  Pages:17-19,45-50
Author(s): F M Zweig; R B Bell; M C McQueen
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: State Justice Institute
Alexandria, VA 22314
Grant Number: 90-036; 94-029
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Federal law reform package currently being considered by the U.S. Congress would, if passed, have a great impact on the Nation's courts.
Abstract: The proposed legislation contains evidence law provisions that could change the ways that courts adjudicate civil and criminal cases. Evidence law reforms in both the House of Representative and the Senate are based on the assumption that so-called junk science has come to typify American jurisprudence, especially in product liability, mass toxic torts, and medical negligence suits. Tort reformers are seeking to break the chain of proofs at the beginning link, by limiting the admissibility of scientific and expert evidence. Proposed legislation, such as the Honesty in Evidence provision, would condition the litigants' right to present their scientific evidence to jury, and would place upon the judge an expanded duty and burden to certify the scientific validity of the evidence as a means of rebutting an unprecedented initial presumption of inadmissibility. Such legislation would likely result in an increased number and complexity of pretrial rebuttal hearings, a shift of judicial duties from evidence reliability screening to fitness certification, a transfer of power from the parties to the judge, reduced caseload and caseload shifting, and attorney sanction risks for failure to rebut the inadmissibility presumption.
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Exclusionary rule; Federal legislation; Law reform; Rules of evidence; Scientific testimony
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