Demonstrating 'Reasonable Fear' at Trial: Is It Science or Junk Science?

TitleDemonstrating 'Reasonable Fear' at Trial: Is It Science or Junk Science?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBurns, SL
JournalHuman Studies: A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Volume31
Issue2
Pagination107-131
Type of ArticleJournal Article
Publication Languageeng
ISSN Number01638548
KeywordsExpert Witness , SCIENCE , SOCIAL sciences
AbstractThis paper explores how scientific knowledge is used in a criminal case. I examine materials from an admissibility hearing in a murder trial and discuss the dynamics of contesting expert scientific opinion and evidence. The research finds that a purported form of "science" in the relevant scientific community is filtered through, tested by, and subjected to legal standards, conceptions, and procedures for determining admissibility. The paper details how the opposing lawyers, the expert witness, and the judge vie to contingently work out what will count in court as appropriate scientific authority, methods and evidence, and as a scientifically valid and legally admissible account of "reasonable fear." When science becomes enmeshed in legal controversies, science does not trump law. Rather, it is the court's canons of proper procedure and measures of substantive adequacy that take precedence.
NotesCover Date: June 2008.Source Info: 31(2), 107-131. Language: English. Journal Announcement: 42-4. Subject: ADMISSIBILITY; CRIMINAL JUSTICE; LAW; POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY; SCIENCE; SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE; SELF-DEFENSE. Update Code: 20110221.
DOI10.1007/s10746-008-9081-1
Short TitleDemonstrating 'Reasonable Fear' at Trial: Is It Science or Junk Science?
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