Reliability and Validity of Forensic Science Evidence

Significance (2019), Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 21-24

7 Pages Posted: 15 May 2019 Last revised: 16 May 2019

See all articles by Hal S. Stern

Hal S. Stern

University of California, Irvine - Department of Statistics

Maria Cuellar

University of Pennsylvania

David H. Kaye

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law; Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2019

Abstract

The rules of evidence both authorize and limit testimony from scientific, medical and other experts. For example, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 allows experts to supply information or opinions to the jury only when “the testimony is . . . the product of reliable principles and methods … reliably applied … to the facts of the case”. The law's use of the word “reliably” to connote probable factual accuracy is potentially confusing, since “reliability” has a distinct meaning in statistical science. The law is concerned with both “reliability” in the statistical sense and “validity” of forensic science methods. This article describes how scientists define and assess the reliability and validity of some commonly encountered types of forensic science evidence. Such assessments are necessary for courts to admit putatively scientific evidence as bona fide and legally “reliable” science. The essay is part of a special issue of Significance, a journal of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

Keywords: forensic science, scientific evidence, reliability, validity, Daubert, Rule 702

Suggested Citation

Stern, Hal S. and Cuellar, Maria and Kaye, David H., Reliability and Validity of Forensic Science Evidence (April 1, 2019). Significance (2019), Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 21-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3356790

Hal S. Stern

University of California, Irvine - Department of Statistics ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Maria Cuellar

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

483 McNeil Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://web.sas.upenn.edu/mcuellar/

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science ( email )

111 E Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

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