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NCJ Number: 67156 Find in a Library
Title: USE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH BY THE JUDICIARY - DO THE COURTS ADEQUATELY ASSESS THE VALIDITY OF THE RESEARCH?
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:3  Issue:1-2  Dated:(1979)  Pages:135-148
Author(s): D L SUGGS
Corporate Author: Plenum Publishing Corp
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: IT IS ARGUED THAT THE COURTS NEED TO DEVELOP PROCEDURES TO ENSURE THE PROPER USE OF SCIENTIFIC PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN BOTH THE ADJUDICATIVE AND LEGISLATIVE FACT CONTEXTS.
Abstract: COURTS, IN THEIR ADJUDICATIVE ROLE OF SETTLING DISPUTES BETWEEN CONTESTING PARTIES, INTRODUCE PSYCHOLOGICAL FINDINGS INTO EVIDENCE IN TWO BASIC WAYS: (1) PRESENTATION OF EXPERIMENTAL FINDINGS BY A PSYCHOLOGIST BEARING UPON A CASE, (E.G., RELATING THE EXTANT PSYCHOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE REGARDING THE ACCURACY OF EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION UNDER CONDITIONS OF EMOTIONAL AROUSAL). THE AMARAL CASE, WHICH SUPPLIED CRITERIA FOR ADMISSIBILITY OF EXPERT TESTIMONY, DOES NOT PROVIDE AN ADEQUATE STRUCTURE FOR TESTING THE ULTIMATE VALIDITY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EVIDENCE. THUS, THE REQUIREMENT OF EXPERT QUALIFICATION IS TOO VAGUE TO DETERMINE THE VALIDITY OF A PSYCHOLOGIST'S TESTIMONY. THE SECOND REQUIREMENT FOR ADMISSIBILITY--THAT EXPERT WITNESS' TESTIMONY BE RELATED TO A PROPER SUBJECT MATTER--HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY CONTESTED ON GROUNDS THAT HIS/HER EXPERTISE INVADES THE PROVINCE OF THE JURY. THIS CONTENTION, HOWEVER, DOES NOT DEAL WITH THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF THE POTENTIAL EXPERT TESTIMONY. THE THIRD REQUIREMENT--CONFORMITY WITH AN ACCEPTED THEORY--POSES GREAT OBSTACLES FOR ADMISSIBILITY OF PSYCHOLEGAL RESEARCH. THE FOURTH CRITERION OF ADMISSIBILITY--THAT THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF THE EVIDENCE MUST OUTWEIGH ANY PREJUDICIAL EFFECT IT MIGHT HAVE--CAN ALSO RESULT IN DISMISSAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL FINDINGS, NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE UNSCIENTIFIC BUT BECAUSE ITS ADMISSION MIGHT CREATE UNFAIR SURPRISE. THE PITFALLS OF THE PRESENT METHOD OF USING PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN A LEGISLATIVE FACT CONTEXT IS ILLUSTRATED BY A REVIEW OF COURT CASES RELATING TO JURY SIZE, AND IN WHICH PSYCHOLEGAL RESEARCH WAS USED. UNDER PRESENT RULES, THE VALIDITY OF THE RESEARCH CANNOT BE DETERMINED. IN CONCLUSION, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT BETTER USE OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE COULD BE ASSURED BY ALLOWING DISINTERESTED SCIENTISTS TO TESTIFY ON THE METHODOLOGICAL VALIDITY OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN BOTH THE ADJUDICATIVE AND LEGISLATIVE FACT CONTEXT. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (DEG)
Index Term(s): Expert witnesses; Psychological research; Psychologists; Testimony
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67156

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