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Scientific Evidence

This libguide is designed to highlight useful legal as well as scientific resources that may be used as aids in presenting scientific evidence in the trial of civil and criminal cases.

Introduction

What is scientific evidence? According to Black's Law Dictionary, scientific evidence is "fact or opinion evidence that purports to draw on specialized knowledge of a science or to rely on scientific principles for its evidentiary value". Evidence, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

Because scientific evidence is beyond the realm of judges’ and jurors’ everyday experiences, the prosecution and defense use expert witnesses to introduce scientific evidence at trial. The Daubert Test is a method that federal district courts use to determine whether expert testimony is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which generally requires that expert testimony consist of scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge that will assist the fact-finder in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993).

During a pretrial Daubert hearing, a court will review the evidence outside the jury's presence. The proponent must show that the expert's underlying reasoning or methodology, and its application to the facts, are scientifically valid. In ruling on admissibility, the court considers the following factors:

  1. Whether the theory can be or has been tested,
  2. Whether the theory has been subjected to peer review or publication,
  3. The theory's known or potential rate of error and whether there are standards that control its operation, and
  4. The degree to which the relevant scientific community has accepted the theory.

Table of Contents

Use this guide as a tool for locating the following:

Reference Sources - links to catalog records of various forensic encyclopedias and scientific dictionaries

Treatises - links to catalog records for books on scientific evidence and forensics; also links to publications available through Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg

Databases - links to databases containing scientific, social science, and legal scholarly articles as well as statistics databases

Case Law - links to sources for locating case law on scientific evidence topics

Drafting Litigation Documents - links to sources of practice notes, litigation document templates and examples

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