SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Identifying a murderer through a bite mark makes good television . . . but, it's not necessarily good science. Science-based evidence once thought valid, like bite mark matching, has been found to be unsupported by scientific research. In fact, the Texas Forensic Science Commission recommended a flat-out ban on bite mark evidence in that state.
Judges are responsible for deciding whether to admit or exclude time-honored, as well as new types of scientific evidence. And, while judges are specialists in the law and courtroom procedure, they tend to be subject area generalists. How do judges evaluate complicated, rapidly-changing evidentiary material when they are not experts in that field?
One invaluable resource is a bench book, such as those existing for search and seizure, drug courts, and labor relations. So, when the founders of The Justice Speakers Institute, LLC (JSI) – Judge Peggy Hora (Ret.), Judge Brian MacKenzie (Ret.), and Mr. David Wallace, J.D. – determined there was no current, updated judicial science bench book, they decided to fill that gap.
They partnered with The National Judicial College (NJC), the nation's largest provider of judicial education, to create the Science Bench Book for Judges, an overview of legal procedure involving validity, reliability, and admissibility of evidence. The project was funded by the State Justice Institute.
Beginning July 1, the Science Bench Book for Judges will be available – online, downloadable, searchable, and free for judges across the United States and around the world. The bench book is meant to guide and assist judges during pre-trial, trial, and post-trial proceedings in both civil and criminal cases.
It will introduce research terminology, concepts, and the scientific method, as well as cover such concerns as expert testimony (see Table of Contents for details of the content). It will include case citations, relevant legal authority, and evidentiary rulings.
The book has been prepared under the guidance and written by illustrious appellate justices, judges, legal scholars, and experienced lawyers (see biographies of writers and contributors).
The bench book will be accompanied by a series of eight NJC-produced live webinars based on key topics from the book. Webinar participants will be able to interact with the faculty and national experts, including many of the book's authors. The 75-minute webinars will be recorded and archived on the NJC website beginning July 9.
"It is our hope," said Judge MacKenzie, "that with these critical materials and training, judges will be able to guard against relying too heavily on imperfect scientific tests, testimony, and evidence."
Justice Stephen Breyer, U. S. Supreme Court, said, "It has become ever more apparent that judges must have some understanding of science. They must be able to judge fairly in cases having a scientific content. They must be able to separate 'junk science' from genuine science. This book is a helpful and necessary effort to provide judges with knowledge and techniques that will help them work with scientific subject matter."
Justice Speakers Institute LLC, founded in 2016, is the gateway to Justice System leaders worldwide. Its founders and their rigorously selected associates are internationally recognized experts with decades of experience and mastery over 300 subjects impacting the justice system.
[EDITORS PLEASE NOTE]: Find quotes from JSI about the bench book here. For additional information or to arrange an interview or presentation, contact JSI at 248.231.9228.
Media Contact: Brian MacKenzie, Justice Speakers Institute, 248.231.9228; [email protected]
SOURCE Justice Speakers Institute (JSI)