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Benched Science

Increasingly, judges decide what science—if any—a jury hears

By
8:29am, October 3, 2005

In television courtroom dramas, prosecutors and defendants' attorneys parade expert witnesses who dazzle juries with insightful forensic analyses, new theories of mental incapacity, data suggesting dangerous flaws in technology, and assessments as to whether an individual's sickness traces to toxic chemicals. In real life, however, many such scientific experts—and the data that their opinions draw upon—never make it to a jury.

Particularly in cases known as torts, in which victims claim injury from a product or circumstance, judges increasingly have been screening expert witnesses to decide whether the scientif

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