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Scientific Evidence and the Courts

1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

On September 21 and 22, 2023, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in collaboration with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), hosted “Scientific Evidence and the Courts” at AAAS headquarters in Washington, DC. This event examined critical issues regarding the admission and use of scientific and technical findings in the United States justice system.  

The conference marked the 100th anniversary of Frye v. United States (1923) and the 30th anniversary of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (1993), two key federal court decisions on establishing a judge’s role as gatekeeper when determining the admissibility of scientific evidence and expert witness testimony at trial. Yet, application of the Frye or Daubert standard remains inconsistent across both federal and state courts, potentially allowing for unreliable evidence and testimony to enter trials, increasing the likelihood of unjust outcomes, such as wrongful convictions, and other violations of constitutional rights.

The AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice recognizes and celebrates the value that accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion bring to scientific knowledge and the scientific enterprise.

We welcome all who wish to engage in positive discussion and contribute their perspectives and expertise as participants and attendees examine the use of scientific and technical evidence, and expert witness testimony in the United States justice system.

Featured Speakers

Photo of Dr. Jennifer Mnookin, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Jennifer L. Mnookin

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Photo of Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

Hon. Jed S. Rakoff

US District Judge
Southern District of New York

Adjunct Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

A portrait photo of Mr. Marvin Anderson.

Mr. Marvin L. Anderson

Board Member
Innocence Project


See the conference program for the full list of presenters!

Presenters and attendees examined the history of scientific evidence in the courts, assess current practices, and identify ways to improve the use of credible, trustworthy scientific evidence, and of expert witness testimony, by federal and state courts going forward. In addition, this two-day conference featured sessions on evolving fields of science beginning to make an impact on the courts, such as artificial intelligence, climate science, and statistical modeling.

The research presented and discussed at this conference, and the needs for future research that were identified, directly relate to improving the justice system’s accurate and effective use of scientific evidence, and to building public trust in the judiciary.

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This conference is in collaboration with

Logo of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). NASEM is a collaborator on the AAAS Scientific Evidence and the Courts conference, Sept. 21-22, 2023.

The Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

This conference was made possible with NSF support

Medallion logo of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

(NSF Award Number: 2318434)

Conference Sponsors

logo of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Science and Technology Law Section

Logo of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Logo of the Arizona State University's New College of Interdisciplinary Forensics

Logo of the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE)

Logo of the Innocence Project

Black text over white background "Iowa State University Department of Psychology."

Logo of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)