My panel is discussing reliable jury verdicts, and my topic is "scientific" evidence. One way to approach this issue is to compare scientific evidence with other methods of proof. The trial lawyers that I worked with viewed cases as falling primarily into one of three categories: eyewitness cases, confession cases, and "scientific" evidence cases. In this scheme, anything that was not an eyewitness, confession, or snitch case was a "scientific evidence" case. These categories, of course, are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive; often two and sometimes all three are involved. Nevertheless, these categories are helpful because they present trial attorneys with very different problems of proof. There have been several significant developments in scientific evidence in the last decade, all of which involve reliability concerns in one way or another. The Sheppard case offers some valuable lessons in the use of experts. It also provides a time line, permitting us to compare the treatment of experts at each of the various trials. Another striking point in the Sheppard trial was how the experts were challenged in these three trials.


Symposium: Toward More Reliable Jury Verdicts - Law, Technology, and Media Development since the Trials of Dr. Sam Sheppard