Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Legal Affairs Features Debate on Daubert and Litigant-Funded Science

The Debate Club over at Legal Affairs features a debate between Michael L. Martinez and Jay P. Kesan entitled "Judges in Lab Coats?" The Debate has as its central question, "Should evidence from commissioned scientific studies be banned? If not, do trial judges following Daubert need more guidance about how to evaluate mercenary research and, if so, what kind?" Here's the introduction to the Debate:

"In 1993, the Supreme Court decision in the Daubert case changed how scientific evidence is presented in federal court. Under Daubert, the trial judge serves as a gatekeeper for the types of expert evidence that may be admitted, instead of the jury evaluating the evidence on its own. Many legal academics and tort lawyers have claimed that, since then, there has been a perverse incentive for defendants (chemical and pharamaceutical companies are often cited) to fund "scientific" studies to be used in litigation, studies that often come to conclusions opposite those reached in peer-reviewed research. As a result, drugs have been allowed that increase risks of cancer and pose other safety problems, according to critics. Even if this mercenary research can't disprove the peer-reviewed studies, it can create enough of an appearance of uncertainty about key evidence to sway a courtroom."

The full debate can be accessed by clicking here.


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