Justice Cromwell Talks on Scientific Evidence

Just two weeks ago Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Cromwell gave the Macfadyen Lecture, the second in the memorial series sponsored by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting. The Council has now made the text of that talk available online.

Justice Cromwell spoke on “The Challenges of Scientific Evidence.” A quotation from his introduction and an outline of the topics he addressed will give you a sense of the scope of his talk:

In virtually every jurisdiction, [the] courtroom encounters between law and science have also resulted in spectacular miscarriages of justice. This, along with the other concerns, have resulted in action by courts, legislatures and law reform bodies in many jurisdictions. It is timely, therefore, to review the law concerning expert and scientific evidence and the various reforms that have been put in place to address these challenges. Ultimately, the key question is how well the law is meeting the challenges posed by scientific evidence.

    Doctrinal foundations:
    The Opinion Rule and its Exceptions
    The Basic Standards of the Rules
    A “Gatekeeper” Role for the Trial Judge

    Miscarriages of Justice and Expert Evidence
    Canada – The Kaufman Inquiry
    Canada – The Goudge Inquiry
    England and Wales – the Sally Clark Case
    Scotland – the Shirley McKie Case

    Meeting the Challenges
    Expert Impartiality
    Quality Control
    Improving Judges’ Scientific Literacy

The Macfayden Lectures honour the memory of the Rt. Hon. Lord Macfayden, who served as a member of the Scottish Council of Law Reporting for many years. The Council is a not-for-profit company established by the Scottish legal profession in order to manage the publication of Session Cases.

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