The Future of Evidence: How Science and Technology Will Change the Practice of Law
Science is everywhere in the courtroom. Although national statistics confirm that well under 10% of those who attend law school have science backgrounds, lawyers are utilizing science and technology every day -- be it in the methods of presenting their proof, or in the proof itself. Judges must now be in command of such terms and areas of study as “neuroscience”-- never even imagined in a courtroom a decade ago -- as they make admissibility and utilization determinations.
For a judge to stay ahead of the curve, he or she must have a basic knowledge of various fields of science as they now stand and anticipate what issues they will present in the future. One resource for this is the newly published book, “The Future of Evidence: How Science and Technology Will Change the Practice of Law,” co-edited by National Judicial College faculty member Jules Epstein, Associate Professor of Law at Widener University School of Law, and published by the American Bar Association.
“The Future of Evidence” offers chapters on digital visual, DNA, child witness, privacy and technology and other areas of evidence with a particularly useful resource titled, “Research Resources in Technology, Science, and the Law (Keeping Current).” The breadth of knowledge in the book is illustrated by these summaries:
• “The Future of Neuroscientific Evidence” discusses the current state of “brain science” evidence, including both its foreseeable potential and whether “revolutionary” claims about this science have merit in the adjudicative process.
• “The Social Construction of the Admissibility of the Most Frequently Proffered Varieties of Expert Testimony” is more law-focused, discussing the gate-keeping role and how judges have used a variety of factors to arrive at decisions about the admissibility of expert evidence and testimony.
• “The Juror and Courtroom of the Future” discusses the electronic transformation of the courtroom, both in terms of the increasing use of multimedia presentations of evidence and the transformation of the courtroom from a “landlocked” institution to one with an online or virtual aspect as proceedings are teleconferenced or otherwise conducted in multiple locations. In each of these settings, the chapter explores the needs and demands of the fact finders: the jurors.
• “Evidence, Privacy and Technology” traverses subjects as diverse as “digital dossiers and jury selection” and “privacy and evidence gathering” -- both critical matters in light of the increasing availability of seemingly private information via the Internet.
For information on purchasing “The Future of Evidence,” visit the ABA store at www.ababooks.org. Be sure to enter the code, “PAB0EFEJ” for a special NJC 15% discount from June 1 through the end of this year. For information on the NJC’s upcoming course, Scientific Evidence in Expert Testimony (August 22-25, 2011), contact program attorney Daphne Burns at email@example.com or (916) 676-9876.