News: News Archives
Judge Appoints First Expert in AAAS Project to Provide Courts with Scientific Expertise
A judge who sits on the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas has appointed the first scientific expert to be recommended by AAAS as part of a project to provide independent scientific expertise to the federal judiciary. Specific information about the case and regarding the identity of the expert will be released at the discretion of the court, according to AAAS's Deborah Runkle, project manager for <CASE, or Court Appointed Scientific Experts. "Our staff defers to the court regarding the release of information about both the litigation and the expert," Runkle said. But she did note that the case concerns an intellectual property dispute and that the recently-appointed expert is a prominent Washington, DC, engineer with expertise in telecommunications.
The judge has asked the expert to write a report explaining the scientific principles in the case and the meaning of technical terms that appear in a related patent," Runkle said. "The expert may also be asked to testify." All costs associated with the expert's work, which will be charged at $300 an hour, will be paid by the two parties to the suit, Runkle said.
CASE is a project of the Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program at AAAS. When requested to do so by the courts, the project assists federal district judges in finding experts who can help them understand and evaluate the scientific and technological issues that play a role in somecomplex cases. There is no list of experts on hand, Runkle said. Rather, she and her colleagues search for experts on a case-by-case basis. They are aided in their efforts by various scientific societies, as well as by the noted scientists who make up the CASE Recruitment and Screening Panel. According to Runkle, organizers of the project hope to help the courts resolve scientifically-complex litigation, while providing scientists with an opportunity to be of service and to help maintain the objectivity that is crucial to scientific integrity.
-- Coimbra Sirica