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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 94054 Find in a Library
Title: Scientific Evidence
Journal: Jurimetrics Journal  Volume:24  Issue:3  Dated:(Spring 1984)  Pages:254-272
Author(s): F B Lacey
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 19
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper considers approaches to the admissibility of scientific evidence, the application of the 'Frye' test to scientific evidence, the current status of 'Frye', and computer-generated evidence.
Abstract: A judge, confronted with the introduction of novel scientific evidence, must decide what test to apply in determining if the proponent has met the burden for admissibility. One of the approaches traditionally used, the McCormick test, treats the validity of the scientific principle and the validity of the technique applying the principle as aspects of relevancy. The second traditional approach, derived from the decision in Frye v. United States, requires that the technique must be generally accepted by the relevant scientific community. In applying the 'Frye' test, the judge must decide (1) who must find the scientific procedure acceptable under the general acceptance standard, (2) whether the underlying principle and technique have been generally accepted by members of that field, (3) what it is that must be accepted, (4) what types of proof can be used to establish acceptance, and (5) when it is appropriate to apply 'Frye.' Under 'Frye', the very use of the phrase 'general acceptance' renders the test ambiguous, and the use of the test ensures that the courts will lag behind the advances of science as the courts wait for novel scientific techniques to gain 'general acceptance.' There is cause for optimism, however, because 'Frye' is a case law rule, and a few courts have expressly or by implication abandoned it, setting other standards for the acceptance of novel scientific evidence. In the case of computer-generated evidence, pretrial discovery should thoroughly cover all aspects of the problem, and following discovery, an in limine motion may be helpful to obtain resolution before trial of any problems relating to computer-generated evidence. A total of 69 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Computer evidence; Forensic sciences; Rules of evidence
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