The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
mentation, statistics, knowledge of related fields, and testimony. Finally, individuals should be assessed through mechanisms such as oral examinations, written examinations, laboratory practicals and laboratory exercises, mock trials, and the assessment of technical performance by appropriate senior staff.
EDUCATION IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM
The forensic science community needs to educate those who use their services and therefore needs to understand the services and their terminology. Users of forensic science analyses include law enforcement officers, forensic pathologists, the bar, the judiciary, the general public, and policymakers. This section focuses on education for the legal community of judges, lawyers, and juries.
In recent years, some judges have struggled to understand increasingly complex scientific evidence. Sophisticated epidemiology and toxicology studies often are introduced in mass tort litigation. Complex econometric models are common in antitrust cases. Disputes over sophisticated engineering principles often are at the core of patent litigation. Failure to consider such evidence in a thoughtful and thorough manner threatens the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Following the Daubert decision, the Federal Judicial Center published the Reference Manual on ScientificEvidence, and a second edition was issued in 2000 to “facilitate the process of identifying and narrowing issues concerning scientific evidence by outlining for judges the pivotal issues in the areas of science that are often subject to dispute.”48 In addition, the courts have responded to the growing complexity of evidence by developing science-based judicial education programs that explain scientific issues as they may arise in the context of litigation. However, these courses are not mandatory, there is no fixed routine of continuing education in legal practice with regard to science, and there are no good ways to measure the proficiency of judges who attend these programs.
Pfefferli suggests that it is important to tailor education programs to the needs of judges:
Forensic educational programs directed towards proficiency in evidence matter must meet the needs of judicial magistrates, which goes beyond a better understanding of the scientific principles and technical methods applied to criminal investigations to demonstrate the existence of a crime. These programs have to look at a variety of different kinds of forensic evidence and their interacting processes, giving special attention to individualization/identification process; evidential value and evaluation of
Federal Judicial Center. 2000. Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. 2nd ed., p. vi.