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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 64062 Find in a Library
Title: SOCIAL SCIENCE EVIDENCE AND THE COURTS - REACHING BEYOND THE ADVERSARY PROCESS
Journal: JUDICATURE  Volume:63  Issue:6  Dated:(DECEMBER/JANUARY 1980)  Pages:280-289
Author(s): P W SPERLICH
Corporate Author: American Judicature Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: American Judicature Soc
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE NEED AND METHODS FOR COURTS TO CONSIDER SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS AS EVIDENCE UPON WHICH TO BASE DECISIONS ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: COURT DECISIONS HAVE TENDED TO BE LIMITED BY A PRONENESS TO IGNORE SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS IN FAVOR OF 'COMMON KNOWLEDGE' AND THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF JUDGES. WHEN SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS HAVE BEEN USED, COURTS HAVE OFTEN INTERPRETED THEM INCOMPETENTLY. FURTHER, BRIEFS AND RECORDS USED BEFORE THE COURT OFTEN NEGLECT SOCIAL RESEARCH RESULTS, AND THE TRADITIONS OF THE ADVERSARY PROCESS MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GO BEYOND THE RECORD IN SEARCH OF INFORMATION. COURTS CANNOT RESPONSIBLY DISCHARGE THEIR DUTIES WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE FINDINGS OF THE SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES. TO DO THIS, THEY MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE IN FACT-FINDING. COURTS CAN HELP ASSURE THAT RESEARCH FINDINGS ARE CONSIDERED IN COURT DELIBERATIONS. THEY CAN MAKE IT KNOWN TO THE BAR THAT COMPLETE AND RESPONSIBLE TREATMENTS OF SOCIAL FACT ISSUES HAVE PRIORITY BEFORE THE COURT, AND CAN ASK COUNSEL TO SUBMIT ADDITIONAL BRIEFS WHEN APPROPRIATE SOCIAL RESEARCH EVIDENCE IS LACKING. APPELLATE COURTS CAN RETURN CASES TO THE TRIAL COURT FOR ADDITIONAL EVIDENTIARY PROCEEDINGS. A COURT MAY GO BEYOND THE PARAMETERS OF THE ADVERSARY PROCESS BY HAVING JUDGES AND OTHER LEGAL SPECIALISTS SEARCH THE SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE. IT CAN DELEGATE THE SOCIAL FACT-FINDING TASK TO A BODY OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS REPRESENTING THE DISCIPLINES RELEVANT TO THE ISSUE. THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHALLENGE AND REBUT ANY SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS PRESENTED TO THE COURT WOULD NECESSARILY BE PART OF THE ADVERSARIAL FORMAT. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Behavioral and Social Sciences; Evidence; Judicial decisions; Research
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64062

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