Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law

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Macmillan, Oct 15, 2000 - Law - 233 pages
Is scientific information misused by this country’s court system and lawmakers? Today more than ever before, lawyers, politicians, and government administrators are forced to wrestle with scientific research and to employ scientific thinking. The results are often less than enlightened.

In Legal Alchemy, David Faigman explores the ways the American legal system incorporates scientific knowledge into its decision making. Praised by both legal and scientific communities when it first appeared in hardcover, Legal Alchemy shows how science has been used and misused in a variety of settings, including

• The Courtroom—from the O. J. Simpson trial to the Dow Corning silicone breast implant lawsuit to landmark cases such as Roe v. Wade.

• The Legislature—where Congress uses scientific information to help enact legislation about clean air, cloning, and government science projects like the space station and the superconducting super collider.

• Government Agencies—who use science to determine policy on a variety of topics, from regulating sport utility vehicles to reintroducing gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

As Faigman describes these and other important cases, he provides disturbing evidence that many judges, juries, and members of Congress simply don’t understand the science behind their decisions. Finally, he offers suggestions on how the science and legal professions can overcome their miscommunication and work together more effectively.

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I FROM THE DARK AGES TO THE NEW AGE The Strange History of Science in the Law
II AN OVERVIEW How Law and Science MeetFrom Courts to Congress
III THE GATEKEEPERS Scientific Expert Testimony in The Trial Process
IV IT IS SO IF THE SUPREME COURT THINKS SO The Supreme Courts Use of Science in Constitutional Interpretation
V ITS NOT JUST A BAD IDEA ITS THE LAW Science in the Legislative Process
VI RARELY PURE NEVER SIMPLE Science in the Federal Bureaucracy
VII NO CRYSTAL BALLS PLEASE What the Future Holds for Science in the Law

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About the author (2000)

David L. Faigman is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He writes extensively on topics concerning the law's use of science and is a co-author of the leading treatise Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law and Science of Expert Testimony, which has been cited several times by the United States Supreme Court. He is regularly interviewed regarding issues of scientific evidence and constitutional law.

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