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The Champion

September/October 2003 , Page 22 

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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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