1. Select a case from the list below and write a short summary of the case. Answer the following:
- Who were the parties involved?
- What was the case about?
- What was the main legal issue and how was it resolved? What were the legal arguments?
- How did the case impact forensic evidence admissibility or expert testimony?
2. Do some research and select a past or a more recent case that is related to your selected case. This case should relate to the rules of admissibility from your original case. For the case you select, be sure to answer the following:
a. Who were the parties involved?
b. What was the case about?
c. What was the main legal issue and how was it resolved? What were the legal arguments?
d. How did the case impact forensic evidence admissibility or expert testimony?
f. For a past case, answer at least one of the below questions:
- In what way did your selected case change/challenge (e.g. the past case allowed X but your case established X was not allowed or vice versa) the past case?
- OR in what way did your selected case build upon (e.g. past cases said a judge can only rule on established scientific techniques, but your case allowed judges to rule on both new techniques and established scientific techniques) the past case?
g. For a more recent case, answer at least one of the below questions:
- How has the recent case built upon your selected case (e.g. a new technique was accepted as admissible evidence in the recent case because your selected case established the admissibility of the evidence)?
- OR how has the recent case changed/challenged your selected case (e.g. your selected case stated X was not admissible, but the recent case accepted X as admissible evidence)?
h. Legal arguments: Be sure to concentrate on the legal arguments, both for and against changing the admissibility rule(s). Legal arguments against can be as simple as ‘this piece of evidence was never used before', to arguments about the statistical sample used to prove the scientific technique, to questions about the validity of the method used. Legal arguments for can be as simple as ‘it has been used in another place by law enforcement agencies', to ‘it has been used in courts before for X', to proving the validity of the method used.
Cases (pick one):
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) (general admissibility)
Andrews v. State of Florida, 533 So. 2d 841 Fla. Dist. Ct. App. (1988) (DNA)
People v. Jennings, 252 Ill. 534, 96 N.E. 1077 (1911) (fingerprints)
Selecting your research case:
1. The research case should connect with one of the cases above in terms of rules of admissibility. So, if you select People v. Jennings, your research case should be centered around the admissibility of fingerprint evidence. In other words, for a more recent case, you need to find a case that either built upon the admissibility of fingerprint evidence or challenged the validity of fingerprint evidence. Alternatively, if you are using a past case, your research case needs to either be a basis for the legal arguments for or against the validity of fingerprint evidence.
2. Your research case:
- SHOULD center around admissibility of evidence as a whole. For example, if you picked Andrews v. State of Florida, your research case should center on whether the court should trust the validity of DNA evidence or explored the validity of a new way of analyzing DNA evidence.
- SHOULD NOT be about the use of faulty evidence or about the rules of admissibility excluding inappropriate evidence. For example, the Mayfield case would be inappropriate as it is about the use of low quality fingerprint evidence, not the validity of fingerprint evidence.
- CAN be about the admissibility of a new technique. For example, your research case can be a case that focuses on the validity of a new way to collect or analyze DNA evidence if you pick Andrews v. State of Florida.
- CANNOT be about how forensic evidence exonerated someone or solved a case. Keep in mind the objective of this paper is to show you understand how rules of admissibility change over time.