From harmful drugs to malfunctioning cars to environmental pollutants, legal disputes increasingly require the use of expert witnesses to explain what science says about the safety of various products and technologies. With billions of dollars and thousands of lives at stake, the way courts resolve scientific questions is important to everyone.
However, courts apply widely varying standards from state to state for evaluating expert testimony. In cases involving the herbicide Roundup, for example, a court in Delaware tossed out much of the plaintiff’s expert evidence, while California courts have permitted juries to decide what was valid. Both choices had a significant impact on the resolution of those cases.
Should judges act as protective gatekeepers to screen out possibly suspect science? Or should they take a lighter hand and trust juries to determine who is telling the truth? Our panel of experts discussed and debated these questions, and examined the use of science in the courts through the lens of the Roundup dispute.
This Congressional Civil Justice Academy briefing featured:
William L. Anderson, Partner, Crowell & Moring LLP
Jeffrey A. Travers, Associate, The Miller Firm, LLC
Moderator: Gregory Conko, Deputy Director, Law & Economics Center, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
See below for photos from the event!