“The courtroom is not the place for scientific guesswork, even of the inspired sort. Law lags science; it does not lead it.”
Retired Federal Circuit judge Richard Posner’s 1996 observation is exceptionally relevant today, as judges and juries see more lawsuits in which scientific evidence plays a crucial role— including the impending onslaught of COVID-19 litigation.
Sadly, these pivotal decisions are often made based on emotion and guesswork rather than settled science. Revisions to the rules governing expert witnesses and judges’ role as “gatekeepers” and juries as “arbiters” of such evidence are crucial to reduce the “guesswork” Judge Posner referred to decades ago.
The public agrees. A recent poll of Americans conducted by the Center for Truth in Science found that 61% of those surveyed believe juries should not award settlements unless there is consistent scientific evidence to do so. In fact, they believe that juries themselves are not qualified to make statements or decisions about the safety of a product or ingredient.
Read the full article in Real Clear Science.