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Scientific Evidence and the Courts: Program

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(Program is subject to change)

Day 1

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM ET

Check-in and Continental Breakfast

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Welcoming Remarks

Ms. Theresa Harris, Director, AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice

Dr. Sudip Parikh, CEO and Executive Publisher of the Science Family of Journals, AAAS

9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Where Law and Science Meet

Featured Speaker

The conference begins with a featured lecture, “Where Science and Law Meet,” presented by Dr. Jennifer L. Mnookin, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She will reflect on the past 30 years since Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc (1993).

Following Dr. Mnookin’s remarks, she will be joined by Dr. Anne-Marie C. Mazza, Senior Director of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) for discussion and Q&A.

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

Coffee Break

10:15 AM - 11:05 AM

Judges as Gatekeepers: Courts and Scientific Evidence

Panel

This session will examine the critical responsibility of judges as “gatekeepers” for determining the admissibility of scientific evidence and expert witness testimony. Panelists will discuss the Frye and Daubert standards, as well as the Federal Rules of Evidence, and assess judges’ application of these standards to ensure only reliable, trustworthy science is presented in court. Further, the panel will provide insight into methods of preparing, supporting and empowering judges—who are typically not scientists themselves—in fulfilling their duty of determining “weight,” or significance, of scientific evidence or testimony that come into their courtrooms.

Panelists

  1. Hon. Nancy Gertner (ret.), Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
  2. Prof. Tess Neal, Dean's Associate Professor of Psychology, Iowa State University
  3. Dr. Beth Wiggins, Director of Research Division, Federal Judicial Center

Moderator

  • Dr. Alison Dundes Renteln, Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Public Policy and Law, University of Southern California

11:05 AM - 11:20 AM

Coffee Break

11:20 AM - 12:05 PM

The (Un)Intended Impacts of the Daubert Standard

Panel

The 1993 Daubert decision by the Supreme Court was supposed to facilitate the admission of trustworthy scientific information as evidence in courts—but did it? Do judges even usually apply the guidance of Daubert? Does the continued use of the older Fry standard, or some mix of Daubert and Fry, result in appreciably different outcomes? A panel of experts will delve into these critical, if technical, issues at the nexus of science and justice.

Panelists

  1. Prof. Ronald J. Allen, John Henry Wigmore Professor of Law, Northwestern University
  2. Prof. Andrew Jurs, Clemens J. Smith Faculty Research Scholar, Drake University

Moderator

12:05 PM - 1:00 PM

Lunch

1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

An International Perspective: Supporting Judges at a Global Scale

Moderated Conversation - Virtual/Hybrid

  1. Mr. Scott Carlson, Associate Executive Director, Center of Global Programs, American Bar Association
  2. Mr. Prateek Sibal, Programme Specialist of Digital Policies and Digital Transformation Section, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO

This conversation will be moderated by Mr. Alain Norman, Senior Program Associate, Science and Law, AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice.

1:45 PM - 2:45 PM

In the Minds of the Jury

Panel

Juries play a fundamental decision-making role in the American legal system, but what can neuroscience tell us about the reliability of witnesses’ memory, or the ways jurors’ minds might absorb (or, reject) evidence presented in court? What tools (e.g., jury instructions) might be leveraged to improve the ability of jurors to do their job of recalling and evaluating information in the interest of justice? Authorities on neuroscience, court best practices, and expert testimony, will parse these often overlooked, but crucial, questions.

Panelists

  1. Dr. Valerie P. Hans, Charles F. Rechlin Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
  2. Dr. Emily Murphy, Professor of Law and the Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair, University of California College of Law, San Francisco
  3. Dr. Michael J. Saks, Regents Professor, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State

Moderator

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Coffee Break

3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

As a Matter of Fact: "General Acceptance" in Emerging vs. Established Science

Moderated Conversation

The processes of peer review and publication play an important role in determining what is “accepted” by both the scientific and legal communities. But how do law and science journals assess what is worthy of publication?

  1. Dr. Adriana Bankston, CEO and Managing Editor, Journal of Science Policy and Governance
  2. Dr. Michael J. Saks, Regents Professor, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and former editor of the journals Jurimetrics and Law and Human Behavior
  3. Dr. Jake Yeston, Editor, Science

This conversation will be moderated by Dr. Brad Wible, Senior Editor, Policy and Education, Science

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Utilizing Scientific and Technical Expertise

Panel

This session will go to the heart of this conference: How can trustworthy science best be brought before the court? When and how do judges appoint experts to provide them with information that parties to a case have not wanted to present? How can interested civil society organizations offer courts objective scientific information? In what ways can scientists and engineers prepare themselves to make often complex scientific data understandable to “lay” judges and jurors? A variety of experts will analyze how to obtain and convey scientific and technical evidence to advance justice.

Panelists

  1. Dr. Joe S. Cecil, Member, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  2. Ms. Deanne M. Ottaviano, General Counsel, American Psychological Association
  3. Dr. Shari Seidman Diamond, Howard J. Trienens Professor of Law, Northwestern
  4. TBD

Moderator

  • Mr. Alain Norman, Senior Program Associate, Science and Law, AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice

4:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Coffee Break

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

Strengthening Cooperation Between the Scientific Enterprise and the Justice System

Featured Speaker

The Hon. Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will share his experience and views on how the scientific and legal spheres intersect and offer his thoughts on what might be done to improve the current situation.

After Judge Rakoff’s remarks, he will be joined by moderator Ms. Theresa Harris, Director of the Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice at AAAS, for a conversation about the ways in which the scientific community can best assist the courts in the promotion of truth and just outcomes.

6:15 PM - 7:30 PM

Reception

Light snacks and refreshments provided.

Day 2

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM ET Check-in and Continental Breakfast
9:00 Am - 9:15 AM

Welcome Back

Dr. John Randell, Co-Chair, AAAS-ABA National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Forensic Science: A Texas Case Study in Accountability

Panel

Texas is in the vanguard of reassessing and improving the ways in which forensic evidence is handled and used in court proceedings. Past failures—in various jurisdictions—to conduct forensic work properly, and/or to use forensic evidence in court properly, have resulted in wrongful convictions and other problems. A panel composed of persons who have spearheaded Texas’ reforms and put them into operation will share lessons learned and best practices that people in the legal and scientific spheres—wherever they may be in America—should take into consideration.

Panelists

  1. Ms. Cynthia Garza, Special Fields Bureau Chief, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office’s and Chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit
  2. Hon. Barbara Hervey, Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
  3. Dr. Peter Stout, President and CEO, Houston Forensic Science Center, Inc.

Moderator

10:15 AM - 10:30 AM

Coffee Break

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

Innovations in Investigative Technologies: Improvements and Drawbacks

Panel

Powerful new tools—Including surveillance technology and forensic genealogy—continue to advance and are being increasingly deployed during investigations. How will law enforcement leverage the data generated by such technologies? How might both courts and communities be affected by their widespread use or misuse? The session will have experts update attendees on the status of such technologies, the prospects for “predictive policing,” and related pressing questions.

Panelists

  1. Dr. Claire Glynn, Professor of Forensic Science, the University of New Haven
  2. Mr. Max Isaacs, Staff Attorney at Policing Project, NYU School of Law
  3. Dr. Duncan Purves, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Florida

Moderator

  • Mr. Lucas Zarwell, Office Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences, National Institute of Justice
11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Artificial Intelligence and the Courts

Panel

Artificial intelligence (AI)—Including machine learning—is rapidly developing and increasingly used by commercial and governmental entities, including courts. Yet, how can judges and juries rely on information (including imagery or texts) arising from the use of AI when computers cannot be cross-examined, or AI developers claim that their algorithms are “proprietary”? What can, or should, be done about generative AI (e.g., “deepfakes”) and/or training data that may be “biased”? This session will grapple with cutting-edge and complex questions about handling AI outputs in legal proceedings—especially given that the Federal Rules of Evidence may not yet take this new reality into account.

Panelists

  1. Dr. David Doermann, Director of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, the State University of New York at Buffalo
  2. Hon. Paul W. Grimm (ret.), Director, Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke Law School
  3. Prof. Rashida Richardson, Assistant Professor of Law and Political Science, Northeastern University

Moderator

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Lunch
1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

Statistical Modeling and Causation Science

Panel

Crucial to the determination of many cases is the problem of establishing causation—not just showing a correlation. At the same time, statistics are often viewed as an inaccessibly complex branch of mathematics. How, then, can statistical data best be used—and conveyed in an understandable yet accurate manner—to help prove the truth of a given matter? Experts in criminology and other fields will discuss that proper use of statistics as evidence and establishing causal inferences in litigation.

This session was organized in collaboration with the American Statistical Association (ASA).

Panelists

  1. Dr. Maria Cuellar, Assistant Professor of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania
  2. Dr. Steven Lund, Mathematical Statistician, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  3. Dr. Rochelle E. Tractenberg, Professor, Neurology, Georgetown University

Moderator

1:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Toxic Tort 2.0: Emerging Trends in Climate-Change-Related Litigation

Panel

Humans and their environment are affected by a variety of pollutants and toxins, and increasing efforts to address climate change are likely. Both phenomena are leading to more litigation, which might include issues ranging from harms to health, the siting or permitting of green technologies or climate-adapted infrastructure, or the scope of insurance coverage (e.g., in the face of wildfires or floods). This session will look at trends in such litigation, how scientists can best participate in such cases, and other issues at the intersection of science and law in this area of growing importance.

This session was organized in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI).

Panelists

  1. Dr. L. Delta Merner, Lead Scientist for the Science Hub for Climate Litigation, Union of Concerned Scientists
  2. Ms. Sandra Nichols Thiam, Vice President, Research and Policy, Environmental Law Institute

Moderator

  • Dr. Rebecca Aicher, Project Director, AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
2:30 PM - 2:45 PM Coffee Break
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Wrongful Convictions and "Changed Science" Statutes

Panel

Some, but not all, states have adopted laws that allow for prior convictions to be appealed if/when scientific or technological advances permit a more accurate assessment of old or new evidence. It remains an open question as to whether more states will take this approach or will take the view that considerations of judicial efficiency—given the overburdened judiciary everywhere—limit the advisability of such reforms. This session’s experts will discuss the status of “changed science” statutes and the urgent question of the degree to which developments in the science and technology sphere are, or are not, leveraged to right past wrongs.

Panelists

  1. Ms. Kristine Bunch, Board Member and Outreach Coordinator, Interrogating Justice, and Exoneree
  2. Ms. Rebecca Brown, Founder, Maat Strategies, LLC
  3. Dr. John Morgan, Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Maryland

Moderator

  • Dr. Sarah Chu, Director of Policy and Reform, Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law

3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Standing Up for Justice: When the Law and Science Work Hand-in-Hand

Featured Speaker

This closing lecture will feature the lived experience of Mr. Marvin Anderson, an exoneree who was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted in 1982 of robbery, sodomy, abduction, and rape. Anderson served over 15 years in prison and 4 years on parole before DNA testing helped to prove his innocence. In 2002, then-Virginia-Governor, Mark Warner, granted Anderson a full pardon. Today, he owns a truck driving company and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project.

Moderator

  • Dr. Willie May, President-Elect, AAAS, and Vice President, Research and Economic Development, Morgan State
5:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Closing Remarks

Ms. Theresa Harris, Director, AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Student Mixer: Science Technology and Law

An opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to meet and network with attorneys specialized in science and technology law.

Light snacks and refreshments provided.

This reception is made possible with the support of the Science and Technology Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA).