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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75229 Find in a Library
Title: Applied Social Research as Evidence in Litigation (From Use/Nonuse/Misuse of Applied Social Research in the Courts, 1980, P 128-135, Michael J Saks and Charles H Baron, ed. - See NCJ-75219)
Author(s): A F Konopka
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Abt Books
Cambridge, MA 02138
Sale Source: Abt Books
Marketing Director
55 Wheeler Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article surveys the ways in which scientific information reaches the courts and court mechanisms for handling complex scientific information.
Abstract: Max Weber identified three factors which cause the public to grant authority or legitimacy to rules: tradition, charisma, and bureaucracy. The judicial branch seems to maintain authority by tradition, but the courts are increasingly asked to perform nontraditional functions, such as deciding highly complex scientific cases. This may be causing the deterioration of confidence in both the courts and science. The problem of how the courts handle highly technical information has become extremely important since a New York Federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit on a motion for mistrial because the testimony was so complex that no jury would be able to decide the case reasonably. The 'Federal Rules of Civil Procedure' and the 'Federal Rules of Evidence' provide procedures for admission of scientific evidence. Rules 702, 703, 704, and 705 of the 'Federal Rules of Evidence' are analyzed: introduction of expert testimony, the basis of opinion testimony, the admissibility of opinion testimony on the ultimate issue, and the disclosure of underlying facts. Six different ways courts can admit scientific information are outlined: court-appointed experts, judicial notice of scientific fact or method, reference to a special master, court advisors, advisory jury, and specialized courts. The many controversies surrounding highly technical information in the courts need to be solved elsewhere, or procedures for using existing institutions need to be developed. A brief summary of the historical development of the problem is provided. No references are given.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Expert witnesses; Rules of evidence; Science and Technology; Testimony
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