UHLC professors double up on AALS panel discussion of scientific testimony 

Professor Joseph Sanders discusses his article on scientific evidence and judicial decisions while Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson listens at the annual AALS meeting.

Professor Joseph Sanders discusses his article on scientific evidence and judicial decisions while Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson listens at the annual AALS meeting.

Jan. 11, 2018 — In a rare occurrence, two University of Houston Law Center professors participated in a single panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in San Diego last week.

Joseph Sanders, A.A. White Professor of Law, and Sandra Guerra Thompson, Alumnae College Professor of Law and director of the Law Center's Criminal Justice Institute, spoke on the topic: "Daubert After 25 Years: A Prospective Look at the Next Great Challenges in Expert Reliability."

As program notes explained, "In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. Supreme Court instructed federal judges to screen expert testimony for reliability prior to admission. The court intended this gatekeeping to enhance the reliability of scientific testimony and ensure a consistent level of rigor between the courtroom and the laboratory."

Panelists discussed potential issues concerning the reliability of scientific testimony and whether the promise of Daubert to deliver reliable science to the courtroom has been met and, if not, what changes are needed.

Sanders discussed a paper he co-authored on an empirical study of judicial decisions on scientific evidence. 

Thompson spoke about the success of the Houston Forensic Science Center which she serves as vice-chair of the board of directors. The center is considered a model lab doing pioneering work in quality control and attracting national and international attention. Thompson and Nicole Casarez, a visiting professor at UHLC and chair of the forensic center, have written extensively on forensic science reform issues.

Seventeen Law Center professors presented papers, spoke or moderated panels at the meeting Jan. 3 – 6.

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