Fun With Daubert

Posted: November 24, 2009 in Miscellaneous

This will mostly be interesting to my law friends, but since everyone is invited to read along I’ll do my best to explain on a general level. That a general level is where I’m most comfortable doesn’t hurt either.

So I’m reading the famed Daubert case for Evidence class (although Daubert is everywhere it seems, this is the first time I’ve actually read it). Everyone can grasp the gist of Daubert because it deals with what it takes to qualify as “expert testimony” in a trial, and all of us have seen a trial or two on television. The quick explanation is that after the Federal Rules of Evidence was published there was a question as to whether the standard should be relaxed as to what it takes to qualify as a scientific expert. In Daubert, the Supreme Court answered Yes.

Anyway, Justice Blackmun is working his magic in the majority opinion and I’m just along for the ride until I notice that he quotes my torts professor from last year! I mean, he not only drops a footnote citing Professor Green’s law review article, and not only actually QUOTES him right there in a parenthetical in the opinion, but he actually quotes him to develop the “Daubert test” that now controls who qualifies as an expert in court!!!

Okay, this was very cool to me, but it got even better the more I read. In Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissent, Professor Green gets quoted again! In the majority opinion, Justice Blackmun concluded that trial judges could be sufficient gatekeepers in making these calls. In the Chief Justice’s dissent, he expressed his love and admiration for the intellectual abilities of trial judges but said that he wasn’t sure “he” (Rehnquist) could be trusted with the scientific knowledge necessary to make these decisions. He specifically added that he hadn’t a clue what the word “falsifiability” meant. “Falsifiability” was Professor Green’s word!!!

Okay, this may only be interesting in a law school geeky sort of way. But I found it pretty cool that I have someone as a reference AND a Facebook friend (one of his seven, thank you very much :-)) that is argued over in landmark Supreme Court decisions that affect the way trials are conducted all over the United States.

Who knew reading a case could be so much fun?

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