Scientific Evidence | L4660

The course begins with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993)). This decision threw out the Frye Rule that had governed the admission of scientific evidence in federal courts since 1923. While the Daubert rule now applies in all federal courts, states are free to either stay with the Frye Rule, adopt the new Daubert Standard or adopt some combination of the two. Students discuss the implications of these evidentiary changes in a number of areas of legal controversy. The course concentrates primarily on the use of social science evidence; however, topics include tort litigation involving Bendectin, and the controversy over the use of DNA testing in criminal cases. Other topics include the use of scientific evidence in consumer confusion cases; obscenity cases and the question of community standards; and the number of syndrome evidence cases, including post-traumatic stress disorder, battered woman syndrome, and rape trauma syndrome. Constitutional law cases include coverage of death penalty issues, jury size cases, and school segregation by race and gender (including the controversy over single-sex education, and the ending of school busing mandates by the federal courts). The goal of this course is to increase the proficiency of lawyers to use scientific evidence on behalf of clients and be able to defend against such evidence when presented by the opposing counsel.

Prerequisites: None
Credit Hours: 3
ULW: This course does not satisfy the Upper Level Writing requirement (ULW)

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