Balancing Legal Process with Scientific Expertise: Expert Witness Methodology in Five Nations and Suggestions for Reform of Post-Daubert U.S. Reliability Determinations
Andrew W. Jurs
Drake University Law School
August 5, 2010
95 Marq. L. Rev. 1329
Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 11-13
In a recent article on science and the law, Susan Haack suggested that “we could learn something from the experiences of other nations that are equally technologically advanced, but have different…legal arrangements.” Her suggestion is both appropriate and timely, as the evidence mounts on the problems with the current judicial management of complex science.
This Article starts with a simple related premise, that the proper balance of legal process and scientific expertise is not a uniquely American problem. If this is true, then we should, as Haack suggests, seek inspiration for reform in the varying methodologies of other nations. After beginning with a critical examination of the U.S. system, this Article discusses the handling of expert witnesses in several common law nations, Canada and the U.K., and in several civil law nations, Germany and Japan. After examining those systems, this Article makes recommendations as to which methodologies, currently in use and tested in those nations, offer the most promise in fixing the weaknesses exposed in our system.
By reviewing the weaknesses in Daubert assessment of complex expert testimony, how other nations handle similar evidence, and how certain discrete areas of foreign law could address the weaknesses identified in the U.S. approach, this Article offers reform alternatives to assist judges in balancing the need for accuracy and reliability of the science presented in court with the need to maintain our traditions of legal process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 87
Keywords: daubert, expert, comparative, reliability, science, torts
Date posted: August 6, 2010 ; Last revised: July 26, 2012