When the Legal System Seeks Help From Scientists: Successes and Failures
Science and the Law
Wise decisions rest on sound science. This session focuses on the legal arena of decision-making, where scientific and technological advances have increased the overlap between scientific and legal issues. Yet, leading scientists often shy away from involvement with the legal system, or find it a difficult place to convey their knowledge. There are few systematic studies of how scientists view the legal system or of their experiences as consultants or expert witnesses. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has been studying these issues through a survey of its scientist members. This survey provides insights about what motivates scientists to participate or refuse to participate in legal processes and lays the groundwork for recommendations on ways to improve the science-law relationship. In this session, study co-chairs will make the first public presentation of data, and a scientist will share her extensive experience serving in various capacities in the legal system. The session will include discussion of how scientists can be better encouraged and equipped to offer their expertise in legal settings.