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Past Project

The Judicial Gatekeeping Project

Brief Subject Description:

This seminar's focus is on the "gate-keeping" role of judges. Ever since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Daubert v. Richardson Merrill-Dow in 1993, questions have raged about the nature and extent of the judicial gatekeeping role in assessing the admissibility of expert scientific testimony, about the reach of the gatekeeping role to other forms of expert and non-expert testimony, and about the means, methods and procedures judges can use in performing the gatekeeping function.

A Sampling of Questions to be Explored:

Can a tort system, designed to allow lay people to apply common sense to questions of everyday negligence, deal with complex issues on which experts cannot agree?

The courts have tried to codify what constitutes "good science" – including standards of peer review and applicability outside a specific case, but there is still not much guidance in how and when to apply these guidelines.  New science does not mean bad science.  Is it the judge’s responsibility to help the jury distinguish the difference?

The judge is often no more scientifically knowledgeable than the jury.  Who helps the judge?  Should the judge hire his or her own expert?  Who pays for that?  What if the judge’s expert is not all that he or she should be?

Fred Friendly Seminars, Inc. provides the editorial and logistical components of the "Judges As Gatekeepers" seminars. It is perhaps best known for the award-winning Fred Friendly Seminars broadcast nationally on PBS, as well as countless seminars for private audiences utilizing the Socratic Dialogue format developed and refined by Fred Friendly.  The producer of this seminar is Ruth Friendly. 

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