Science In The Courts

Your opinion page features headlined "Disorder In The Court When Science Takes The Witness Stand" [The Scientist, Oct. 29, 1990, page 15] were timely and to the point. The writer, Edward J. Imwinkelried, argues persuasively [ in "Court Rules Work To Exclude Valid Scientific Testimony"] for allowing scientists to help set procedural ground rules for admissibility of scientific evidence rather than waiting for such science to pass the popularity poll implied in the so-called Frye, or general acce

Jon Zonderman
Dec 9, 1990

Your opinion page features headlined "Disorder In The Court When Science Takes The Witness Stand" [The Scientist, Oct. 29, 1990, page 15] were timely and to the point. The writer, Edward J. Imwinkelried, argues persuasively [ in "Court Rules Work To Exclude Valid Scientific Testimony"] for allowing scientists to help set procedural ground rules for admissibility of scientific evidence rather than waiting for such science to pass the popularity poll implied in the so-called Frye, or general acceptance, test.

I'd like to focus on his discussion of research into how juries accept and synthesize scientific evidence. His main citation for stating that jurors are inquisitive and look on scientific evidence critically--rather than being under the "spell" of scientific expertise, as California's Supreme Court once cautioned--is a 25-year-old study by the Chicago Jury Project.

But times have changed, and I believe juries today--indeed, our country's citizens--are beset by far more complex...