The Judicial Labyrinth for Scientific Evidence

The real Daedalus (not the musician), as every school child knows, was the creator of the Cretan Labyrinth, where the Minotaur resided. The Labyrinth had been the undoing of many Greeks and barbarians, until an Athenian, Theseus, took up the challenge of slaying the Minotaur. With the help of Ariadne’s thread, Theseus solved the labyrinthic puzzle and slayed the Minotaur.

Theseus and the Minotaur on 6th-century black-figure pottery (Wikimedia Commons 2005)

Dædalus is also the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Academy has been, for over 230 years, addressing issues issues in both the humanities and in the sciences. In the fall 2018 issue of Dædalus (volume 147, No. 4), the Academy has published a dozen essays by noted scholars in the field, who report on the murky interface of science and law in the courtrooms of the United States. Several of the essays focus on sorry state of forensic “science” in the criminal justice system, which has been the subject of several critical official investigations, only to be dismissed and downplayed by both the Obama and Trump administrations. Other essays address the equally sorry state of judicial gatekeeping in civil actions, with some limited suggestions on how the process of scientific fact finding might be improved. In any event, this issue, Science & the Legal System,” is worth reading even if you do not agree with the diagnoses or the proposed therapies. There is still room for a collaboration between a modern day Daedalus and Ariadne to help us find the way out of this labyrinth.

Introduction

Shari Seidman Diamond & Richard O. Lempert, “Introduction” (pp. 5–14)

Connecting Science and Law

Sheila Jasanoff, “Science, Common Sense & Judicial Power in U.S. Courts” (pp. 15-27)

Linda Greenhouse, “The Supreme Court & Science: A Case in Point,” (pp. 28–40)

Shari Seidman Diamond & Richard O. Lempert, “When Law Calls, Does Science Answer? A Survey of Distinguished Scientists & Engineers,” (pp. 41–60)

Accomodation or Collision: When Science and Law Meet

Jules Lobel & Huda Akil, “Law & Neuroscience: The Case of Solitary Confinement,” (pp. 61–75)

Rebecca S. Eisenberg & Robert Cook-Deegan, “Universities: The Fallen Angels of Bayh-Dole?” (pp. 76–89)

Jed S. Rakoff & Elizabeth F. Loftus, “The Intractability of Inaccurate Eyewitness Identification” (pp. 90–98)

Jennifer L. Mnookin, “The Uncertain Future of Forensic Science” (pp. 99–118)

Joseph B. Kadane and Jonathan J. Koehler, “Certainty & Uncertainty in Reporting Fingerprint Evidence” (pp. 119–134)

Communicating Science in Court

Nancy Gertner & Joseph Sanders, “Alternatives to Traditional Adversary Methods of Presenting Scientific Expertise in the Legal System” (pp. 135–151)

Daniel L. Rubinfeld & Joe S. Cecil, “Scientists as Experts Serving the Court” (pp. 152–163)

Valerie P. Hans and Michael J. Saks, “Improving Judge & Jury Evaluation of Scientific Evidence” (pp. 164–180)

Continuing the Dialogue

David Baltimore, David S. Tatel & Anne-Marie Mazza, “Bridging the Science-Law Divide” (pp. 181–194)

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