Are Lawyers and Scientists Commuicating Well?

There may be something lost when lawyers and expert witness scientists talk. They both possess different meanings for the same words (for example, “proof” usually means something mathematical in science, where as it is more subjective in the law). To remedy the problem, it is first important for lawyers and scientists to understand that there is a problem before they get into the depositions and whatnot where their communication is key. Many lawyers may not know enough about science to realize that they need to clarify their definitions and intentions. This could be especially problematic when the lawyers then try to summarize the scientist’s testimony to the jury. If the lawyer doesn’t fully understand what the scientist is saying, who knows what could get mis-translated for the jury.

It is also important that the scientist understand the lawyer. In explaining to the jury the relevant science, he might need to know that background in which to frame it to really convey the information accurately. For example, with DNA evidence, the likelihood of the DNA being from another human being is given as a fraction. This is never going to be zero, but the law does not require a zero chance for the burden of proof to be met. This is a distinction the juries may have a hard time understanding without the aid of the lawyer in the closing arguments.

Article: http://kolber.typepad.com/ethics_law_blog/2012/10/speaking-science-to-law-.html

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