Expertise

In Redding and Reppucci’s “Effects of Lawyers’ Socio-political Attitudes on Their Judgments of Social Science in Legal Decision Making”(1999), they reveal that jurors and judges are more likely to believe a concept that links them with their personal beliefs when they judge expert testimony. They use a variety of psycholegal research studies to imply the law for legally relevant psychological issues. They claim that social evidence is also the scientific evidence, so it should be admitted in courts. Their study explore whether judges’ and law students’ sociopolitical attitudes affect their judgments.

They use the death penalty as a subject because it is an important controversial social issue that most people hold strong opinions about. In “Science Law and the Search for Truth in the Courtroom: Lessons from Daubert v. Merrell Dow. ”(1994), Bertin and Henifin illustrate that newly developed concepts are instantly at a disadvantage despite the quality of the research. In the article they examine the Daubert case which involved a dispute over whether Bendectin, an anti-nausea drug used during pregnancy, caused birth defects.

Both of the articles demonstrate that there is a gap in the judicial system in the judgment of expert opinion. This gap is posing a threat as it is causing information that is valuable to be ignored and old ideas to be still used. Science and social science in the judicial courts pose unanimous difficulties in the search for truth. In a given case, whether social science or science is used by the defense or the prosecutors, the judge and jury is required to determine the competency of the expert testimony. Both articles question how to make an acccurate assessment, eventhough they are not experts.

Both assert that the courts can not make accurate or fair determinations in regards to whether expert testimony is accurate enough to be admitted. Redding and Reppucci learn that many judges do not feel they need social science to make an accurate decision, and “are threatened by social science. ”(Redding and Reppucci, Pg. 49), and are therefore swayed against the testimony. Bertin and Henifin state, “It is easy to agree that only valid, reliable, and relevant… data should be introduced into the court; it is quite another matter to determine what submissions meet that standard. “(Bertin and Henifin, Pg. 3) Bertin and Henifin propose that judges and jury’s should not be responsible for determining the credibility of expert testimony, since they are not experts themselves. Redding and Reppucci’s research supports this proposition since they determined that judges and other acti or people of the court, are influenced in their decisions both by their education on the subject and their own personal persuasions. (Pg. 49). Even the standards for how expertise should be established are influenced by bias. Redding and Reppucci’s work also reflects Bertin and Henifin stance on the publishing dilemma in expertise establishment.

In Bertin and Henifin article they examine the Daubert case which involved a dispute over whether Bendectin, an anti-nausea drug used during pregnancy, caused birth defects. They explain that the defendants relied on expert opinion that “is based on a review of all published epidemiological studies and analysis of birth defects data” (Bertin and Henifin, (Pg. 24), while the plaintiffs relied on a new re-analysis of the data that yielded different results (Pg. 24). The tort law judge dismissed the case claiming that the plaintiff’s evidence was not acceptable, for the most part, because it had not been published. Pg. 24) Bertin and Henifin introduce the necessity for publication and peer review to be detrimental to establishing valuable expertise. They point out that peer review does not safeguard the validity of the research, since it does not reproduce experiments. Bertin and Henifin as well as Redding and Reppucci demonstrate that if requirements for publishing and peer review are allowed to exclude testimony, valuable, accurate and important information will inevitably be unjustly left out of the courtroom.

While judges and jurors may find it easier to make determinations on expertise based on whether the information is published and peer reviewed, they face great difficulty when they encounter opposing expert opinions. Bertin and Henifin explain that “if judges and juries were relieved of the task of resolving technical questions … many ‘battles of the experts’ would be obviated, leaving courts to concentrate on questions they can more confidently resolve. ”(Bertin and Henifin, Pg. 2). Determining which expert opinion is more relevant to a case is crucial when neither the judge nor the jury is educated in the science or social science fields. Redding and Reppucci’s research found that judges and law students’ determinations on legal expertise varied greatly. Surprisingly, judges who felt absolutely sure everyone in the study would agree with them on their judgments varied the most in their determinations (Redding and Reppucci, Pg. 70).

They determine that when evidence does not agree with a judges attitudes towards the issue, the evidence will get less weight, and when the evidence agrees with the judges attitudes it will gain greater weight in the case (Redding and Reppucci, Pg 73). The two articles demonstrate a dilemma in the application and establishment of expert testimony within the law. Competing expert testimonies as well as misleading empirical results are proven to confuse judges and jurors. As a result, determinations on the relevance of expert testimony are made by personal attitudes towards the research rather than the objective facts.

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