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Navigating Forensic Evidence in Legal Trials: Admissibility and Standards

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Admissibility of evidence from forensic science requires the side that is preferring the evidence to show that the Federal Rules of Evidence, rule 702 and the Daubert were followed. Therefore, the expert witnesses that are testifying needs to carefully consider how they are demonstrating they have achieved the requirements that are necessary. Ultimately, the court is to ask the expert to prove the methods they used and the derived conclusion and whether they are reliable. Demonstration that they used procedures that are properly done, and the methods that were used were vetted properly, and that there are known rates of error, that also the expert received training that is appropriate, and so forth, are essential for the information coming from the examination of the expert to be admitted by the court as the human society develops. The evidence. In most instances, experts are questioned about their level of certainty on their opinions and conclusions (Fisher, 2016). The paper will argue against the admissibility of the forensic science evidence and the techniques used in describing the evidence in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ~ 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786. Moreover, the paper will incorporate and discuss the university’s core values as appropriate.


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The Case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc

The petitioners, who were two young children (Jason Daubert and Eric Schuller) with their parents, in their suit against their defendant (Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals) that grave birth defects of the children were the results of the prenatal ingestion Bendectin by their mother. This was a drug prescription that was being promoted by the respondent. The district court granted a summary judgment to the accused based on their expert affidavit which was well credentialed, making a conclusion upon reviewing scientific Literature that was extensively published on the subject, that the maternal usage of Bendectin has not been demonstrated at all to be a risk factor for birth defects on human beings. The plaintiffs made a response to the testimony by eight other credentialed experts. The experts on the side of the petitioner based their arguments that Bendectin can cause birth defects on chemical structure analysis, animal studies, and unpublished re-analysis on human statistical studies that were previously published. In their determination, the court found out that this evidence presented by the plaintiff was not meeting the general acceptance standard that are applicable for the expert testimony to be admissible. The court of appeals affirmed and agreed, citing Frye v. United States, 54 App. D. C. 46, 47, 293 F. 1013, 1014, Indicating that the opinion of the expert is not admissible based on a Scientific technique unless the technique that was used is accepted generally as reliable and in the relevant community of science (CULS, 2018).

Arguments against the admissibility of the forensic science evidence and the techniques used in describing the evidence in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc

The admissibility of risk assessment standards within the legal frameworks. The essay explores the forensic evidence depends on the principle of its basis. That is, it has been established sufficiently that it has a general acceptance in the scientific field where it is belonging. The evidence presented by the petitioners did not meet this set standard. Given the Existing data on epidemiology that is vast in regard to Bendectin, any opinion of the expert that is not based on the epidemiological evidence is inadmissible for establishing a causation. Therefore, the chemical structure analysis, live animal studies, and the animal cell studies on which the petitioners were relying on cannot raise reasonable disputable jury issue by themselves in regard to causation. The epidemiological analysis of the petitioners was also based on data recalculations on the studies that were previously published but they did not find a causal link between birth defects and the drug. This also makes these evidences by the petitioner to be inadmissible because they had not been subjected to peer review and they have not been published (CULS, 2018).

According to Frye v. United States (Harvard, 2018), an opinion of an expert that is based on scientific technique cannot be admissible unless the technique used is accepted generally as reliable in the relevant scientific community. Therefore, any opinions of an expert based on a methodology that significantly diverges from the accepted procedures by the authorities recognized in the field cannot be demonstrated to be accepted generally as a technique that is reliable. Considering the risks of Bendectin, the reanalysis of the epidemiological studies by the petitioners Is inadmissible. This is because, the reanalyzed studies have not been subjected to peer review and has not been published. These unpublished reanalyzes in this case are specifically problematic because the original published studies massively supported the position of the respondent (CULS, 2018). Moreover, the published studies which the petitioner reanalyzed all had undergone full scrutiny from the researcher’s community. Therefore, the evidence of the petitioners does not provide any sufficient foundation for admissibility of the expert testimony that Bendectin caused them injuries.

The Federal Rules of Evidence, provides the standards for admission of expert scientific testimony in a federal trial. The adoption of the rules superseded the Frye’s “general acceptance” test (CULS, 2018)

The rules particularly Rule 702, places limits that are appropriate on the admissibility of purportedly scientific evidences by giving the Trial judges the task of making sure that the testimony of the expert is relevant to the task at hand and is resting on a reliable foundation. Rule 702’s requirement establishes the standard of reliability that a testimony of an expert pertain to “scientific . . . Knowledge.” Given that the adjective “scientific” Means that it is based on the methods and procedures of science, while the word “knowledge” implies to a body of ideas or facts inferred from the facts or are generally accepted on the good grounds as true. The requirements of the Rules that the testimony “helps the of fact in an understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue” primarily goes to relevance by demanding a valid connection in science to the pertinent inquiry as a precondition for admission of forensic scientific evidence. In the case, the evidence presented by the petitioners Lacked scientific connection to the pertinent inquiry and therefore it cannot be admissible.

Pursuant to Rule 104(a), the trial judge, when faced with a proffer of scientific testimony from an expert under Rule 702, Must make a preliminary evaluation of whether the testimony that underlies the methodology or reasoning is valid scientifically and can be applied properly to the fact at issue. a number of considerations will bear on the inquiry including whether the technique or the theory in question has been or can be tested, whether it has undergone publication or peer review, potential error rate or its known, and the maintenance and existence of standards that control its operation, and whether it has attracted acceptance that is widespread within irrelevant scientific community. CULS (2018) Indicated that the inquiry is always a flexible one and its focus must be solely on methodology and principles, not on the findings that they generate. Throughout the process, the judges should always be mindful of other rules that are applicable. Therefore, the chemical structure analysis, live animal studies, and the animal cell studies on which the petitioners were relying on under inquiry were valid scientifically but has not been generally accepted in their relevant scientific community. The epidemiological analysis of the petitioners was also based on data recalculations on the studies that were previously published but they were unpublished and not peer reviewed. This also makes these evidences by the petitioner to be inadmissible because they had not been subjected to peer review and they have not been published.

Presentation of contrary evidence, cross-examination, and instruction on the burden of proof carefully, instead of wholesale exclusion under the “general acceptance” standard that is uncompromising, is the appropriate method by which evidence based on principles that are valid may be challenged. That even the trial judge’s limited screening, on occasion, will prevent the jury to hear the scientific breakthroughs that are authentic is simply as a result of the fact that the rules are not made for seeking cosmic understanding but instead, for resolving legal disputes. The petitioners based their evidence on providing contrary proof to the published epidemiological studies. The evidence was based on the chemical structure analysis, live animal studies, and the animal cell studies. Upon cross-examination and the instructions on the burden of proof it was discovered that they applied inappropriate methods and principles that are not valid. These further supports the argument that the evidence presented by the petitioner is inadmissible by the courts.

The University Core Values and their relevance to Admissibility of Forensic Evidence by Courts

Saint Leo University is a Catholic university in Florida comma and it offers education that is best on liberal arts for people of all faiths. The core values of the university include excellence, community, Respect, personal development, responsible stewardship, and integrity.

1. Excellence

Saint Leo University Is an enterprise education. every member of the university, collectively individually work hard in ensuring that the students develop the character, learn skills and assimilate the essential knowledge in becoming leaders who are morally responsible. The success of the university majorly depends Upon all stakeholders of the university conscientious commitment to the mission, vision and goals of the university.  based on the core value excellence, the university ensures that the students learn the skills and get knowledge. This is essential in analyzing scientific subjects and other related disciplines. Based on the topic of the paper, which is the admissibility of forensic evidence by the courts, the survey by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, in average a pharmacy student borrows an average of 0,000. Most students in this discipline have the capability of analyzing the case and determining whether the presented evidence is admissible by the courts (SLU, 2018).

2. Community

Saint Leo University endeavors in developing Christina learning communities everywhere they serve. The university fosters the spirit of unity, belonging and interdependence based on mutual respect and trust in creating socially responsible environments that challenges them to learn, listen and to serve. Based on the core value of community in the university, the students are able to identify themselves as belonging and are united as a community. Forensic investigations often entail information gathering and intelligence, laboratory analysis, and crime scene investigation, interpretation of results and tests, and reporting and communication with the law enforcement members as well as the judicial system. The forensic science community is diverse but integrated like Saint Leo University community. A forensic student in the university who has embraced the community as a core value will embrace it even in the field while collaborating with other agencies and experts in collecting analyzing forensic science evidences in the field (SLU, 2018).

3. Respect

Animated in the spirit of Jesus, Saint Leo University value all unique talents of people, thrive in fostering their commitment to excellence in the work of the university, and respecting their dignity. The strength of Saint Leo University community is on diversity and unity of its people, on learning, free exchange of ideas, working harmoniously and living. Based on this core value of respect, the university nurtures respect and dignity that is important in criminal justice system. The students who passes through the university understand the rights of treating others with fairness and dignity, respect to the criminal justice system especially in collection and analysis of the forensic science evidences (SLU, 2018).

4. Personal Development

The university also emphasizes on the development of the mind, body and spirit of every person for a balanced life. All members of the university community show their commitment to personal development in helping in strengthening the character of the university community. Sometimes the students may be affected by lack of confidence or stress, or perhaps they need help in learning how to stay focusses or relaxed. this core value in the university helps in addressing these issues. Personal development is also important for professional growth of the students both outside and inside the criminal justice arena (SLU, 2018).

5. Responsible stewardship

The creator has blessed Saint Leo University with abundance of resources. The university fosters the spirit of service in employing their resources for community and university development. The university apply and optimize all the resources of their community in fulfilling the goals and missions of Saint Leo University. By the university using all their available resources in helping the community, they make the future better for many people and further their core value of responsible stewardship. By making the future of their students better, they aid them in sharping their intellectual skills which can be applied in forensic science evidence analysis, criminal justice discipline as well as other related disciplines being offered in the university (SLU, 2018).

5. Integrity

The commitment of the university to excellence demands that the university members deliver on its promise and live its mission. The staff, faculty and students pledge to be just, honest and consistent in deed and word. Integrity is also important in evidence analysis sine majority of investigations on computer forensic involves hard drives analysis and need highest level of integrity. Also, in DNA analysis, throughout the forensic process, physical integrity of the biological evidence is significant. Lastly, ethically compromised justice sector implies that the institutional and legal mechanisms designed for curbing corruption, however well efficient, honest and well targeted they are will not operate properly (SLU, 2018).


CULS. (2018). Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).. Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 23 April 2018, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/92-102.ZS.html

CULS. (2018). Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).. Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 23 April 2018, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/92-102.ZO.html

Fisher, B. A. J. (December 06, 2016). Moving Toward New Requirements for the Admissibility of Evidence. Forensic Science Policy & Management: an International Journal, 7, 51-53.

Harvard. (2018). Frye v. United States 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). Law.harvard.edu.

SLU. (2018). History, Values, & Catholic Roots | Florida Catholic University | Saint Leo University. Saintleo.edu. Retrieved 23 April 2018, from https://www.saintleo.edu/history-values-catholic-roots

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