The Judge as Evidence Gatekeeper

Beginning in 1993, the U. S. Supreme Court tasked judges as gatekeepers of the evidence and imposed a duty of assuring evidentiary fitness in all trials involving complex or novel scientific and technical information. The gatekeeper doctrine - adopted in some form by all jurisdictions --requires judges to assure valid scientific methodology underpins the proffered evidence. None of these duties can be discharged unless and until a judge understands the terms reference of such evidence. He must be able to develop question checklists with respect to hearings to admit or exclude evidence. She must be able to understand the evidence well enough to rule on discovery and jury instructions motions. Very few observers want judges to undertake their own research. Many Bar groups, however, appreciate the help that comes from a background-sophisticated adjudicator in civil as well as criminal cases.

Non-prescriptive Background Science

ASTAR does not prescribe rulings. Judges can discharge their Constitutional duties merely armed with novel, complex evidence's terms of reference. Beyond Platform A training, an even-handed, glossary-augmented description of these reference landscapes can provide a fully public, prior published terms of reference without any judge having to undertake his or her own original research.

Partnership with Scientific American

ASTAR's evolving partnership with Scientific American, the premier publisher of mainstream science and technology, permits every resource judge to search the magazine's on-line archives. It also permits ordering prior theme publications in support of Platform A and Platform B educational modules. Currently under development is a series of printed desk books referencing selected sectors of scientific evidence common or expected in the Nation's courtrooms. An example is forensic evidence, where judges report a robust impact from CSI television program.

All publications accessed or developed through ASTAR's Scientific American portal will be available to the public. Updates and specific publication information will be published in this web site column's succeeding issues. Email inquiries of [email protected] will also be answered.

*To contact us: for a National Judges' Medical or Science School program
Phone: 301-913-0448
Email: [email protected]
Suite 199
5505 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20015