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A graphic crime scene: Daubert and the evolving standards for forensic evidence
By Jon M. Sands, Robyn Greenberg Varcoe
Profound changes are occurring in every aspect of forensic evidence,
from what is evidence, to gathering evidence, to introducing evidence in
judicial proceedings. Evidentiary rules such as Fed. R. Evid. 702 and
decisions such as Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael,
526 U.S. 137 (1999) have transformed the role of judges from passive
rubber-stampers of accepted scientific processes to vigilant
gatekeepers, passing on the validity and relevance of the science
itself. Advances in forensic evidence are freeing the wrongly accused
and catching the guilty. Even the public is keenly attuned to the
subject, and hit shows such as CSI reflect this interest. In
light of these changes, it is appropriate to survey a room with a view
of forensic evidence. Such a survey will reveal that while Daubert
has redecorated the room, and opinions may still be out as to the legal
decor, “the usual suspects” of forensic evidence
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