Changed Science Statutes: Can Courts Accommodate Accelerating Forensic Scientific and Technological Change?

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2017-01-01
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Cole, Simon
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Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence
The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) carries out research on the scientific foundations of forensic methods, develops novel statistical methods and transfers knowledge and technological innovations to the forensic science community. We collaborate with more than 80 researchers and across six universities to drive solutions to support our forensic community partners with accessible tools, open-source databases and educational opportunities.
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In the past several years, the nation’s two most populous states have passed new statutes specifically intended to address the issue of rapidly changing scientific and technological knowledge, perhaps signaling a national trend. This reflection article situates a discussion of these “changed science statutes” within a sociological understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge, exploring the question of what it means for scientific knowledge to “change.” It then traces the procedural history of the two cases widely credited with prompting the passage of the statutes and courts’ varying interpretations of the statutes. It suggests that, while changed science statutes offer broad potential for redressing the use of impugned science in closed cases, courts have thus far limited their applicability through narrow interpretation of the statutes.

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This is an article published as Simon A. Cole, Changed Science Statutes: Can Courts Accommodate Accelerating Forensic Scientific and Technological Change?, 57 Jurimetrics J. 443–458 (2017). Posted with the permission of CSAFE.

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Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017
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