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Impartial Scientists In The Court Systems

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the good-idea dept.

The Courts 159

jimmyUCB writes: "It looks like the American justice system may not be utterly doomed after all. This article from Science Daily says that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is paying scientists and engineers to be impartial tech tutors to judges so they don't have to listen to biased experts that are paid by defendants/plaintiffs. "

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scientists are allways right (2)

slimme (84675) | more than 13 years ago | (#414444)

Science is not the absolute truth some people think it is. If you ask a scientist what the truth about a subject is, you get his or her opinion. Good scientists acknowlegde this. The bad ones are even unawere of the fact that they are giving their own opinion.

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

fitsy (22336) | more than 13 years ago | (#414445)

I think we need to ensure that people serving in the jury have a minimum of education to ensure that they can weight the evidence in a rational manner. This would ensure that the facts are the most important part of the case, rather than the words of a fancy lawyer. In the end, this can only led more a more just court system.

No, people in the jury should be representative of the society in which we live in, so that they make decisions on what is acceptable to them, a section of society, not what is acceptable to one's person's beliefs and opinions due to their education, ie: the judge, or some stuck up bigoted twat who "has been to university".

everyone is biased (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 13 years ago | (#414446)

Just because a person is "impartial" meaning not associated with one side, that doesn't mean they won't have some inherent bias.


everyone is biased

Re:How does this change anything... (1)

gus goose (306978) | more than 13 years ago | (#414459)

Of course you are right, Microsoft ha just recently stated that they need to educate the powers that be. Why not start in the courtroom....

Here's the link......here. [slashdot.org]

They don't need the AAAS or CASE. (1)

Ruger (237212) | more than 13 years ago | (#414460)

Judges should just log on and go to Bill Nye [kcts.org] or How Things Work [howthingswork.com] and they could get 95% of their questions answered.

Ruger
Gruesome Stuff [sfdt.com]

Re:Of Course.. (2)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 13 years ago | (#414461)

The judicial system protects those of us interested in liberty from those of us who aren't who seem to often make their way into the legislative and executive branches. A woman's Right to Choose would not exist if the Supreme Court weren't there to protect it. Why? There are lots of stupid, vocal Southern social conservatives in Congress. These people, who are as far from Libertarian as you can imagine, want things like creationism taught in schools and they want to return women to the kitchen and the bedroom.

I consider myself a Libertarian too, and I agree that the system by which Justices are appointed to the Supreme Court to be highly distasteful, but given how little I respect the ability of the masses to elect a president and Congress who will represent their own freedom and the common interest, i.e. how anti-Libertarian most of this country seems to be, I am glad that we at least have some rational, well-educated, highly intelligent people up there who debate and consider from a moral and legal viewpoint (they are not bound by strict precedent as the highest court in the land, although they are usually bound by Congressional directive). In other words, without these guys, we'd be even more fucked.

What a laugh! (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#414462)

"...is paying scientists and engineers to be impartial tech tutors to judges so they don't have to listen to biased experts that ae paid by defendants/plaintiffs." Who says scientists and engineers(paid or unpaid) can't be bribed?

Good Idea (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 13 years ago | (#414463)

How many times have we seen PAID "experts" give their B.S. opinions to line their own pocket books. The whole OJ Simpson Trial. Anything that you want an expert to say, they will say for the right amount of money. Wouldn't you? I mean after all, it's not like the judge can call you on it. He's not the expert, we are. This idea would bring justice to an all new level at the same time putting a stop to those who take advantage of capitalism for their own desires. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Extend to patent system? (1)

limboman (307079) | more than 13 years ago | (#414464)

It seems like this would be a pretty hard sell in the court system. Regardless of the scientist's impartiality, lawyers would always want 'their guy' on the stand. Where I think this group could be really useful is in the patent system. With the explosion of net technology and associated (controversial) patents, a consultation with an impartial scientist that actually KNOWS something about the relevant technology would be a huge asset. Just a thought...

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 13 years ago | (#414465)

No, people in the jury should be representative of the society in which we live in, so that they make decisions on what is acceptable to them, a section of society, not what is acceptable to one's person's beliefs and opinions due to their education, ie: the judge, or some stuck up bigoted twat who "has been to university".

*sigh* Juries are never going to be representative of society as a whole because a) there aren't enough of them to be a statistically valid sample and b) they're comprised of people too stupid to avoid jury detail. So if anything the average intelligence of a jury is somewhat lower than the mean.

Besides, most people are used to being manipulated by charismatic talkers. After a lifetime of watching such classy television experiances as "When Good Pets Go Bad", "Married With Children" and, God forbid, "Will and Grace" they aren't used to things like rational thinking or logical analysis.

On the other hand, people in more cognitive fields are used to analysing a situation rationally and logically. Just look at the cut and thrust of debate here on /. It's very similar to how a courtroom should be, and by having people in the jury who can cut through bullshit and misdirection we can make sure justice is done correctly.

Sounds like a good idea to me (1)

11thangel (103409) | more than 13 years ago | (#414471)

I'll bet that judges would make more justifyable decisions if they actually knew what the person was talking about instead of having to pick the person who uses the longer words. Not only would it increase the public opinion of the legal system, but some proper rulings will be more likely to be made.

FP, with a comment (1)

quiggy (266165) | more than 13 years ago | (#414473)

Maybe it's a good thing that justice won't be blinded by ignorace and stupidity.... oh, and FP

Hindsight is 20/20 (3)

SupahVee (146778) | more than 13 years ago | (#414474)

This is a damn fine idea, but it sure would have been nice to have the judge Kaplan in the DeCSS case. He was so brainwashed by the MPAA, he couldn't have found his ass with both hands, a flashlight and a GPS.

Do they have an agenda? (5)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414476)

How impartial is impartial?
Would the AAAS not be considered to be biased in some states/districts, for example if there were to be a "rights to not be taught evolution" case?
I'm not saying AAAS bods wouldn't be "right" in this case, I'm just saying that they are able to color the situation with their own views as much as anyone else, and hence would not be impartial to the case in hand.

FatPhil
--

I'm amazed. (4)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#414477)

I'm amazed (and alarmed) that the courts ever started taking the testimony of paid witnesses to begin with. How can you believe the word of anyone who is being paid by one side in a dispute? (Let alone someone who makes their living that way, as many do.)

If scientists or other specialists do in fact have expert knowledge that is needed for the resolution of a case, let the courts serve them a subpoena -- just like they do for real witnesses.

--

Rewriting the law (2)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#414478)

One of the problems is that many judges, whether through inexperience with the medium or deliberate intent, really want to see technology as an excuse to rewrite basic law. As just one example, including a hyperlink to a page is little different from providing a bibliographic reference in a paper document-- but recent decisions draw make the former a potential crime.

While many cases would be helped by a judge who understands the issues (particularly in the area of patent infringement), a large percentage of the important cases before the courts rely on very subjective interpretations by judges who will probably never "get it", no matter how well they are re-educated.

The AMA (3)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#414479)

The AMA is a good example of an "impartial" scientific organization. But they themselves have a lot of connections with big industry. If you were an individual or a small company with a case against a large medical corporation, would you want put all your faith in an "unbiased" expert witness whose motives may not be completely unbiased?

This is not a new idea (5)

werdna (39029) | more than 13 years ago | (#414480)

The notion of using a special master to advise judges on particular technical or legal issues is hardly new. There is substantial case law suggesting that the appointment of a special master is within the sound discretion of the court (which means that the appointment, even over the objection of the parties, is reviewed solely for abuse of discretion).

Still the exercise of discretion generally requires the judge to consider the concerns of the parties. Just because AALS says an expert is unbiased, that representation would be unlikely to suffice. Further, even where there is a special master, each side is likely to produce its own experts, whose credentials and expertise may well impress the factfinder more than the remarks of the special master. The master serves as an aide to, and does not supplant, the judge, in any case.

Astute observers will note that a special master, Lessig, was appointed to advise the judge in U.S. v. Microsoft, although that particular appointment was something of a cause celebre.

Re:They don't need the AAAS or CASE. (1)

nurikochan (247910) | more than 13 years ago | (#414481)

ah...but do they teach ethics? THAT is the problem...

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

egburr (141740) | more than 13 years ago | (#414482)

they're comprised of people too stupid to avoid jury detail.

When I was summoned for jury duty, I made no effort to avoid it. I wanted to participate and see what it was like. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring two books with me. I got through the first book and most of the second before one of the trials I got assigned to actualy happened, on the third day. I am not sure I would want to do that again, but only because of the two wasted days. Once I actually got into a trial, I really found it interesting.

Edward Burr

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414483)

Wooo! meritocracy argument - excellent.
You're both part right. There are certainly people who are not qualified (as rational people) to judge evidence, and there are some who certainly aren't. IQ is not necessarily an indication of this I'll accept. How ESN (hey, screw PC, I think it's a perfectly valid term) does someone need to be before they don't have the right to be part of the running of society? So you need a way of judging the eligibility. I reckon that in the same way that there's a driving test, there ought to be a voting test and a jury test too. I'm not asking for much, merely that the principles involved are understood. A society run by the elite would not be an improvement at all.
Having said that, with the adversarial system most countries use, you can't get biased expert witnesses to put fancy falsities into your case, as they are cross-examinable. As long as the other party or its councel have the required knowledge to shoot down the falsities, then the jury don't need to be good at anything apart from weighing two counter arguments with opposing views. Both councels have the same weapons at hand, and a logical scientist will be as able to get a lawyer in knots as the reverse. Hey, I've seen every episode of Quincy, I know that science wins out in the end!
:-)
FatPhil
--

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (1)

fitsy (22336) | more than 13 years ago | (#414484)


You fink?

(Assume for a moment you lived in the UK)

If you were caught jerking off to your favourite pics at goatse.cx, you would be prosecuted for *distribution* of obscene material.

Now, who would you rather be at the jury, some bible bashing christian with a degree, or Jon Doe with his equally large selection of pics (without the degree)?

Remember that the jury would have to decide whether the material was obscene/corrupt/etc

I stand by my original assertion that juries should be representative of society and not selected by education.

almost a fair justice system (1)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 13 years ago | (#414492)

impartial scientists to testify :

gee, what's next ?

sober lawyers for the sentenced to death ?

Yes, I "fink" (1)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 13 years ago | (#414493)

(Assume for a moment you lived in the UK)

I do now.

If you were caught jerking off to your favourite pics at goatse.cx, you would be prosecuted for *distribution* of obscene material.

LOL, now that would never happen. Pornography is morally wrong in that it degrades women, and ethically wrong in that women are often forced in to it by their boyfriends, and are treated like objects for the lusts of men who cannot find themselves a wife.

But in a "hypothetical" situation like you describe then I would rather have a jury of my technical peers than some monkeys off of the streets of London. After all, the dubious morality of the average "geek" is well known, as is their love of pornography and acceptance of dubious lifestyle choices like homosexuality.

I stand by my original assertion that juries should be representative of society and not selected by education.

And I stand by my assertion you are wrong.

Yawn! (2)

Cliffton Watermore (199498) | more than 13 years ago | (#414494)

South Africa has had this for years. A colleague of mine served on a panel advising the high court in South Africa when the Wouter Basson Chemical Warfare trial was on. This really isn't news and it proves why the US is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of social structure.

For a really advanced country as far as this sort of thing is concerned, check out the Netherlands.

Re:The AMA (1)

davep_ub (160466) | more than 13 years ago | (#414495)

If you were an individual or a small company with a case against a large medical corporation, would you want put all your faith in an "unbiased" expert witness whose motives may not be completely unbiased?

Even if an "expert's" motives are pure, there are a lot of scientific areas in which prevailing scientific wisdom may be incomplete, incorrect, or channeled within political or bureaucratic imperatives. I'm thinking, for instance, of epidemiology, where certain state agencies set criteria within which the experts pronounce. Meanwhile, plaintiffs in toxic waste-related lawsuits often don't get to challenge the frameworks within which state experts are told to operate.

I was a recent Buffalo City Council meeting regarding the neighborhood of Hickory Woods, which the *city* itself redeveloped on slag- and toxic-waste filled land and then sold to homeowners using subsidies. At the hearing, there were homeowner after homeowner testifying to pets dying, kids getting seriously ill, their own illnesses, including arsenic-induced internal bleeding, cancer, etc. It was enough for the Council to pass yesterday a resolution looking toward full relocation. The mayor is not yet officially convinced, and he is waiting for a report from the Dept of Health. Guess what? To my knowledge, NYS DOH has never started with an evaluation of any site as immediately dangerous: not with Love Canal and not with Forest Glen, both of which became Federal Environmental Emergencies. BTW, Hickory Woods has toxic levels well above Forest Glen's....

Dave

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 13 years ago | (#414496)

I think we need to ensure that people serving in the jury have a minimum of education to ensure that they can weight the evidence in a rational manner. This would ensure that the facts are the most important part of the case, rather than the words of a fancy lawyer.


I agree, but the chances of this are small. Recent jury questionares have started asking for level of educations as well as specific areas of experetise. For instance, I have seen a grand jury questionare that asked if you had a degree in law, or a doctor's or nursing degree, and if you did, to recurse yourself from the jury immedately. For myself there are only two ways to think about this: The first being the lawyers invovled didn't want too smart of people involved, or want people that might be sympathetic to one side or the other.


Either way, it is somewhat doubtful that this will happen for several reasons, not the least of which is that in the US it is less than 25% of the population has ever gone to college to receive a degree.

Re:Of Course.. (2)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#414497)

"In a true libertarian government, the judicial system would only have the ability to sentance people accused of crimes, and yet now in this socialist system it's gotten so powerful that they're selecting our president for us."

Leaving aside why you think arguments about a "true libertarian government" apply to the US, let me ask this question: Who do would you rather have selected the president? It simply isn't (and especially, wasn't in this case) possible to be exactly accurate and fair when you are talking about millions and millions of people. When disputes arise (and disputes ALWAYS arise), somebody has to be the final arbiter. In this country, that's the Supreme Court.

Would you rather have left it to the Florida legislature? Or ANY elected official, in or out of Florida? Or perhaps we should have "let the people decide"--of course, we did that once; it was called "election night" and it didn't work the first time around. Maybe we should have broken out the guns and nooses (neece?)? I don't necessarily think the Supreme Court was right, but I DO think it was reasonable.

Any system of government that doesn't provide for the resolution of disputes won't last very long. And some of those disputes will be self-referential, but there's literally no mathematical way around that.
--

Soft Sciences (5)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#414504)

I wonder how this will work in the Soft Sciences.

For example there are many social theories that have not had any solid scientific proof except in the harse world of politics. And even there it would be questionable. One example of this would be marxism, which since most of those systems have fallen, can be said to be a flawed system. This can hardly be taken as scientific proof.

Another example is in the field of mental health where despite billions of dollars of goverment funding, we hardly have a better society because of it. In fact, there have been dozens if not hundreds of schools of mental practice since WWII, but not much in terms of real social advance. The things touted as major advances often lead to things like Hellmouth. And there is not much that could stand up to the standards of proof demanded by hard Science. Referances include respected people such as Thomas Sasz(?) and others.

The real problem is when the hard or soft science is biased because of political agendas, which is what this program is supposed to counteract. I think that there will be some commontion caused by all of this.

Re:Judge and Jury (2)

OverCode@work (196386) | more than 13 years ago | (#414505)

Juries are more of a study in manipulative group psychology than in any honest judgement of what's right or wrong. After reading a bit on the subject (I'm minoring in psych at the moment), I'm truly frightened that one day such a group of people might judge me or a friend.

People tend to be so confident of their ability to see into others that they fail to realize they are being driven to a particular verdict -- even when they KNOW the lawyers are trying to do this. Most people think they can tell when someone else is lying, but this is almost never the case, and certainly not a reliable basis for judging someone's guilt or innocence.

In short, juries are seriously flawed, at least as they are presently implemented. Better than an arbitrary decision by a judge, perhaps -- but at least a judge is trained in the field and *usually* doesn't have a strong bias one way or another.

-John

Re:I'm amazed. (1)

fizban (58094) | more than 13 years ago | (#414506)

It's usually not a big problem, because both sides of the case bring their own "experts" so they cancel each other out. This just throws in a "neutral" third party that can provide "real" expert advice.

--

Re:Rewriting the law (1)

GodHead (101109) | more than 13 years ago | (#414507)

including a hyperlink to a page is little different from providing a bibliographic reference in a paper document

That's the thing right there. It IS different to everyone else out there. A hyperlink in the eyes of the masses is similar, not to a footnote that says "go look in the June issue of Time", but to actually HAVING the June issue of Time stapeled on the back of the paper. You and I and everyone else on the site might "get" how this thing works but how many people out there do? How many think that AOL and the Internet are the same thing?

At the risk of flying off-topic even more here let me say that problems with the laws and such are TEMPORARY and will be fixed SOMEDAY - like the traffic laws were fixed. Remember that they used to have 10mph speed limits on highways. And for the people who cry "speed limits? that's taking away my freedom!" - Think about it. Can you really tell me you want people who take 10 minutes to decide on a PASSWORD driving as fast as THEY think is safe?

G.H.
Troll? Don't mind if I do!

So I guess these experts won't be biased, right? (1)

Keck (7446) | more than 13 years ago | (#414508)

Does it worry anybody to know that in the process of gaining technical knowledge of *anything* (tech industry, science at large, etc) a person *does* gain a bias of some sort along with it?

These 'experts' could easily be the next best person to buy/influence, if you can't buy the judge/jury... Also, there may be a tendency for the Judge being brainwas^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htutored to give more weight to this expert's information, regardless of how much of it is opinion ...

Hopefully these experts will be less biased toward a particular case than the 'expert witnesses' called by the prosecution/defense, who are obviously puppets, chosen for the testimony they are expected to give, but I can easily see a situation where the defendant (napster, for example) calls an expert for testimony (shaun fanning, let's say) and then that person's statements are belittled by the Judge's "impartial" expert... /me worries about this being just another way to play the system...

Re:media whores != scientists (3)

shaper (88544) | more than 13 years ago | (#414509)

True scientists aren't biased...

Hoo hoo! Ha ha! Hee hee! That's a good one! That statement is incorrect in so many ways that it boggles the mind. How about:

Scientists are by definition human (on Earth anyway) and so are biased, by definition. The perfect human has not yet been invented. :-)

In practice, it is actually much worse than that, given that modern science can be very political in the quest for funding dollars and research grants.

The people who are most knowledgeable about a given scientific subject have much at stake (professional reputation, the aforementioned research dollars) in propounding or repudiating a particular view on that subject. It's possible that the most knowledgable person may be the least objective, especially in a confrontational legal setting where their own work may be called into question.

I could go on, but I think I've made the point...

Re:Adversary system (3)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#414510)

But, as the article clearly states:

Federal judges have had the right to appoint experts to advise both judge and jury since 1975

As long as they have that right, it makes sense to give them an opportunity to take good advantage of it by finding competent scientific advisors- which is all that the system does. Nobody is forcing the justice system to bring them in, either, so the judge will only call one in when he thinks that it's warranted. Besides, it's not as though the judges and juries have to take the scientists' words as gospel just because they're not being hired by one side or the other. They'll still be required to judge the scientists' opinions and credibility the same way that they would any other witness. If the scientist has an obvious bias, his testimony can be discounted the same way that any other biased witness's testimony would be discounted.

Re:Judge and Jury (2)

coupland (160334) | more than 13 years ago | (#414511)

If you expect jurors to be experts in the field in which the alleged crime took place, then you are by definition introducing prejudices into the process. If you stack a jury in an MP3 copyright-infringement case with Slashdot readers, you're only looking at one side of the coin.

Also, remember that in countries like Canada, defendents get to choose between trial by judge or jury, so it's not really possible to say judges only fill one role.
---

what a wonderful opening. (1)

thelaw (100964) | more than 13 years ago | (#414512)

"It looks like the American justice system may not be utterly doomed after all."

i love how this is phrased. "utterly doomed." who thought it was doomed? apparently the poster did, but this is just hilarious. i love it when people make doomsday comments like this.

jon

Impartial? (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 13 years ago | (#414513)

Impartiality is virtually imposible. The best you can hope for is for someone who has no interest in the outcome but still understands the technology.

Impartial observer... (2)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 13 years ago | (#414514)

Is anyone else reminded of the concept of an 'impartial observer' from that sci-fi book about a child who was raised by martians. Sorry, can't remember the name of the book, but it was also the first time I heard the term 'grok'.

In this novel, specially trained people donned a white cloak and instantly became observers. While wearing the cloak, they could only report on exactly what they heard or saw without any interpretation or extrapolation. Their status as an observer held special legal status much like a notary public, and they could be used for much of the same functions, ie. providing witness to the signing of a contract.

I see this as a good idea, IFF the advisors are given strict training in how to be impartial, and that their status an advisor is maintained by stringent rules. An understanding would develope that status as an advisor would be a position of honor, and the honor of the position would be soiled by any misconduct that would reflect on the advisors as a group. The advisors would police themselves to maintain that honor. If they did not do a good job, they would not be believable (and therefore not used) in court.

Re:Adversary system (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#414515)

But that only works when both sides have the same level of resources to make those arguments, i.e. both have equal amounts of money.

Re:media whores != scientists (3)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#414516)

OTOH, most court cases aren't going to involve extremely contentious issues that are hot ongoing research topics. Instead they're going to pit one side that actually has the weight of generally accepted scientific though behind it and one side that's dug up the one scientist in a thousand who has a wacked out alternate theory. The problem is that the average judge or juror isn't going to be able to tell the two apart based only on the testimony of the two sides' witnesses. Each of them is going to present himself as the more reliable party and without an unbiased third party to help decide the issue it's likely to be a tossup. Heck, in many cases it's worse than that because the guy supporting the wacko view is a professional witness who has lots of experience convincing juries while the guy supporting the real science is a practicing scientist who's only used to talking to other scientists.

Actually, in some cases it's worse than that. My boss was an expert witness in the OJ civil trial, testifying about the mass spectrometry evidence of EDTA contamination in the blood samples. I can't see how any practicing scientist could possibly have concluded that the samples were contaminated based on the evidence they had (the alleged EDTA was a background peak, while it should have stood out like a sore thumb) but the defense dug up somebody who was willing to testify that they were. I'm sure that money changing hands had a lot to do with it. A third scientist who reached his conclusion based on the evidence instead of how much money was going into his research budget (my boss at least took his fee as a donation to his research, not for his personal use) would have been much more reliable.

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

werdna (39029) | more than 13 years ago | (#414523)

It's not just tech-savvy. Judges also need to have substantial comprehension of a complex body of law, and its underlying policies. This is generally true of all areas, but most District Court and virutally all state court judges (outside of the Northern District of California, the Rocket Docket of Virginia and perhaps the Southern District of New York) have precious little understanding of the law. In practice, all they will have seen before making substantive decisions is a few 30-50 page briefs and perhaps some oral arguments regarding the same.

In the U.K., there are special trial courts for patent actions (although they use the same appellate courts). In the U.S., it is exactly the opposite, general trial courts and a specialized appellate bench.

As to providing "minimum educations" for a jury, that specific requirement, even of a literacy test, has been held unconstitutional.

missing the point... (1)

god_of_the_machine (90151) | more than 13 years ago | (#414524)

If the AAAS presents the proper scientific perspective to the case, to cut through the mush thrown out by the lawyers and paid scientists from either side, then they would be much more impartial that what exists now.

In an evolution-type case, the AAAS scientist could tell the judge "So far as the evidence points to, evolution is the best explanation as to how complex life forms on Earth came to be". That is a scientific perspective, and it is mostly free of bias -- just reporting on what is common knowledge.

If the other side says "there is a great amount of debate in the scientific community about evolution" then the AAAS scientist can be in a perfect, non-biased position to refute that. I think that it's a great move for proper justice.

-rt-

Re:Judge and Jury (2)

Fatal0E (230910) | more than 13 years ago | (#414525)

I hope you didn't mean American judges in that post. You have it completly wrong.

But, primarily it is to determine which laws, if any, may have been broken.

The judges role in any case (criminal or civil) is to make sure the trial follows the courts procedures. It's not his/her job to decide what laws a defendant has broken, or what civil action they are liable for; that privaledge is given to the people, represented by the district attorneys or (in a civil case) the party that are enacting the law suit (respectively). In a criminal case it's the Judge's job to hand out an appropriate sentence if a guilty verdict is reached. In a civil case the judge might instruct the jury as to what the law says they can award to the litigant they side with.

"Me Ted"

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 13 years ago | (#414526)

they're comprised of people too stupid to avoid jury detail.

My normal tactic is to ignore the card sent to me. Unless its sent registered mail, I don't have to admit seeing it. But last September, my wife sent it in. This caused me to miss 3 days of work (of course I was compensated $18.) We had a discussion about how someone working on deadline doesn't really enjoy days of not going to work.

Re:Yes, I "fink" (2)

fitsy (22336) | more than 13 years ago | (#414527)


Oh well, we'll have to agree to disagree.

BTW, There is no point bashing porn or geeks, you sound like a politician who wants to be seen as "the pillar of the community", but in the privacy of his home, enyoys those things he "finds" morally wrong like wife-swapping or boning younger men.

What if... (2)

pogen (303331) | more than 13 years ago | (#414528)

What happens when someone sues the AAAS, and they need an expert witness? :-)

Re:Of Course.. (2)

sheldon (2322) | more than 13 years ago | (#414529)

I'm not a loonitarian, but...

Actually it was up to the Supreme Court in Florida to interpret the election laws down there in the most fair way.

I don't think it's at all reasonable for a party to go around advocating state's rights and constructionist interpretation of the Constitution, and then throw that all to the wind when it's inconvenient for their political power plays.

Sorry, the mechanism for deciding disputes was in place... The Republicans just didn't like the decision that was made.

Re:Sounds like a good idea to me (1)

coulbc (149394) | more than 13 years ago | (#414530)

What about having professional jurors. People educated in subjects like psychology and forensics. They could weed out a lot of the BS testimony and make decisions based on technical merits instead of the loudest-best dressed attorneys.

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (1)

Dukhat (198764) | more than 13 years ago | (#414531)

Actually, in Germany you have to take classes before you can become a juror, and I think the pay is much better for jury duty.

You seem to be placing too much confidence in the logical, analytical mind of a scientist being able to make the correct decision. Scientists make mistakes all the time. The validity of scientific ideas comes through experimental verification and not through approval of geniuses. Of course, in a trial there is not time available to form hypotheses and antitheses, experiment, and repeat if necessary (shampoo science).

Also, look how many disagreements there are on /. concerning which is the best OS, programming language, text editor, etc. Being technically minded does not prevent emotional attachment to certain technologies.

Judges will never be able to be informed on all the technical issues involved in a case. It would be nice though, if there was a separate jury of scientists that could review a written record of each scientific witness' testimony and disapprove of any obvious misleading statements. That would take a lot of the effectiveness out of buying your own expert witness.

Who watches the watchmen? (2)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#414532)

I will not grant that this is a better system.
If you are any good at your field, you are
likely to have an opinion. When you have an
opinion, it is very hard to give a a truly
balanced critique / overview of a topic.

If you have just one person acting as an
interpreter, you have a significant chance of
getting a person who has one bias.

In the current system, you have one side bringing
up their 'experts' who will have a guaranteed bias,
however, you will have on the other side 'experts'
that will have a guaranteed bias to the other
extreme. It is better to have two known biases
offsetting each other, than one bias that has
no balance.

And besides, who will decide who is qualified to
have an expert 'unbiased' opinion. And who will
decide who will decide? etc.

-CrackElf

Re:Of Course.. (3)

killbill (10058) | more than 13 years ago | (#414533)

The judicial system protects those of us interested in liberty from those of us who aren't who seem to often make their way into the legislative and executive branches. A woman's Right to Choose would not exist if the Supreme Court weren't there to protect it. Why? There are lots of stupid, vocal Southern social conservatives in Congress. These people, who are as far from Libertarian as you can imagine, want things like creationism taught in schools and they want to return women to the kitchen and the bedroom.

You do people on both sides of an important issue a great disservice when you attempt to misrepresent an important issue like abortion.

You will find the great majority of people interested in ending abortion motivated by the constitution, to which the right to not be killed is fundamental.

You will find the great majority of people interested in maintaining the rights to abortion motivated by the desire for a woman to be able to live her life as she desires.

The real question here has to be to determine at which point a life actually begins, and at which point an individual is protected by the constitution. It is an important question, and one that can be tricky to answer when the stakes are so high.

But taking the views of an extremely small and vocal minority, and trying to paint about 50% of the population with that brush, only serves to divide and inflame people while demonstrating your ignorance.

Sorry if this sounds a little harsh... but I think this is too important an issue to be trivialized and misrepresented, no matter which side you are on.

Bill
(eliminating my +1 bonus because this is way off topic)...

Re:Of Course.. (2)

shren (134692) | more than 13 years ago | (#414534)

You've got to love that term, sheeple, that a significant minority of Libertarians use to refer to all Non-Libertarians. Every time I hear that word, I hear, "I hate you and what you think, and think that your priorities are misbegotten. Vote for my party anyway, you freedom-hating slave!" No wonder these people got tromped by every other political party. You can't be on a Libertarian mailing list for more than a week without learning about the average Libertarian's total contempt for humanity in general and all Non-Libertarians (sheeple) in specific.

My association with these arrogant, self-righteous fools ended with the Harry Browne campaign - my campaign donations will go elsewhere. How do they ever expect to win an election when they can not hide thier contempt for anyone and everyone who do not think like they do? It doesn't matter if you're right if your mere attitude makes people hate you the second you open your mouth!

Could the FSF or EFF provide a similar service... (1)

ehiggins (35174) | more than 13 years ago | (#414535)

... to the one the AAAS is providing? It would be an excellent opportunity to educate judges and juries on important IP matters.

Earl Higgins

Re:Soft Sciences (1)

pogen (303331) | more than 13 years ago | (#414536)

One example of this would be marxism, which since most of those systems have fallen, can be said to be a flawed system. This can hardly be taken as scientific proof.

Agreed, and I would think that an AAAS witness/advisor would simply not take a position on such an issue, either way.

Re:missing the point... (1)

anomaly (15035) | more than 13 years ago | (#414537)

But the 'scientific community' is not always all that much of a community. WRT evolution, there are many differing viewpoints - Dawkins, Gould, Lewontin, and others who have VERY different opinions about what the 'correct' version of the facts is.

This doesn't even go near the people who believe that evolution as the origin of species is not demonstrable - these are all people who believe that evolution is the explanation for creation of species! This is disagreement within the 'evolutionary community' a small pocket of the so-called 'scientific community'

Additionally, what is 'common knowledge' in the 'scientific community' can change rapidly and frequently. Case in point being the cosmology theories disrupted when a new solar system was discovered with Jupiter-sized planets. This discovery turned planetary-formation theories on their collective ear.

Scientists are people. People are biased. Scientists have bias, whether you can admit it or not.

Re:media whores != scientists (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414538)

Woo Woo - Troll?

I've been at 50 Karma for ages, just today I earned 8, but of course had to decline due to karma cap. You've finally enabled me to actually gain karma again!

Thanks!

--

Re:Rewriting the law (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 12 years ago | (#414539)

A hyperlink in the eyes of the masses is similar, not to a footnote that says "go look in the June issue of Time", but to actually HAVING the June issue of Time stapeled on the back of the paper

To most people, a hyperlink is as convenient as having the document stapled to the back of the paper. But there are fundamental differences that even your average Joe can understand (and certainly a judge.) One difference is that the 'publisher' of the linked-to document retains control; if they need the document taken down (or are ordered to take it down), they can do it themselves at the source. Whereas nobody can control a paper clipping from Time once it leaves your hand. With that fundamental difference clarified, the rest of the decision revolves around a simple question of convenience, and there it's hard to draw any sensible lines. If you happen to be reading a paper document in a library, resolving a written bibliographic reference is a question of walking a few yards through the stacks (or grabbing piece of microfilm.) I find it hard to believe that a judge would ban references in that case.

Exactly what kind of ignorance? (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 12 years ago | (#414540)

Maybe it's a good thing that justice won't be blinded by ignora[n]ce

That depends on what you mean by ignorance. The judges will be better informed on many technical matters. They will be better misinformed where the AAAS conflicts with observable reality. I guess it's a nett win, but it remains to be seen.

Another consideration might be that if large greedy corporations (-: yes, Bill, there is more than one :-) were concerned enough about the judge's understanding, they might pay even more to see that certain technical aspects were emphasised or explained more creatively to the judge. (-: It is the American Way, afer all, just ask Bill's mate Jim about that :-)

and stupidity... oh, and FP

Was that a definition? (-:

Lets just be glad... (3)

amstrad (60839) | more than 13 years ago | (#414541)

...that the judges didn't choose the Fox Networks "scientific correspondents"

Re:Hindsight is 20/20 (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414542)

Wasn't it between his forearm and his upper arm?
Or was it that hole in thte ground.
Oh I get some confused sometimes...
FP.
--

How does this change anything... (1)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 13 years ago | (#414543)

Whats to stop corporations from buying off the tech tutors and having an even more biased judge? It's a nice idea, but I don't think it will have any impact; we've seen from MS that corporations are less than honest, and will often do whatever it takes to win.

"// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (5)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 13 years ago | (#414544)

I've been with companies that have been involved in court before over technical issues, and it's not pretty! Because when it comes to matters of technical intellectual property, most people even in the field would have difficulty deciding which way to go, and that's when they can understand the arguments...

I think what we need is to ensure that for tech cases that the judge is technically qualified, otherwise it all comes down to whichever side can put foward the slickest presentation of why they are "right". That's exactly what happened to one company I worked for, and it caused them to go bankrupt in the end.

But perhaps we need to take it further and ensure that in all cases juries are at least familiar with technical issues. Foresnic evidence and statistical analysis of such is now an important part of many criminal investigations, and there are numerous studies showing how unreliable witeness evidence is. But most people just blindly accept eyewitness accounts, which has led to any number of miscarraiges of justice.

I think we need to ensure that people serving in the jury have a minimum of education to ensure that they can weight the evidence in a rational manner. This would ensure that the facts are the most important part of the case, rather than the words of a fancy lawyer. In the end, this can only led more a more just court system.

Of Course.. (2)

Electric Angst (138229) | more than 13 years ago | (#414547)

You realize that this is just another load of crap the government is dumping on us. The judical system has far more authority now than specified in the Constitution, and you sheeple just keep bleeting away and giving them more and more.

In a true libertarian government, the judicial system would only have the ability to sentance people accused of crimes, and yet now in this socialist system it's gotten so powerful that they're selecting our president for us.

I see my fellow libertarians on this site, and I see them rail against the evils of patents, drug laws, and outragious atrocities to American sovreignity like the UN, but they don't seem to realize that there's another tenticle of this horrible beast wrapped around the very system of justice we hold so much faith in.

I can only hope that people start to realize this, and no longer accept the false authority of those who would rule us in black robes.


--

human error (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 13 years ago | (#414551)

"The judges don't use this authority to appoint experts, and one reason they don't is that they don't know where to go for the expertise," Runkle says. "We think they will feel comfortable coming to us because they can say they are going to an organization with tremendous prestige and no vested interest in the outcome of a given case."
No invested interest - is this so? How are AAAS members selected? What do we know about their expertise or their interests? AAAS gets so much power since they will be trusted by judges and judges will rely on AAAS members' opinions. Who will control AAAS?
Of-course there is a need for such organization, I am just wondering how will it be monitored and supervised to provide really educated and impartial views.

Re:Do they have an agenda? (1)

Requiem (12551) | more than 13 years ago | (#414552)

That's not a technical issue, though. That's an issue that pretty much anyone can understand, and make a decision on.

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#414557)

I think what we need is to ensure that for tech cases that the judge is technically qualified,

But it's more important that they are legally qualified. It's an almost unrealistic goal that they be technical experts.

But perhaps we need to take it further and ensure that in all cases juries are at least familiar with technical issues.

that's what "expert witnesses" are there for.

I think we need to ensure that people serving in the jury have a minimum of education to ensure that they can weight the evidence in a rational manner.

If we do this, why bother having a jury at all ? I mean, what purpose do the jury serve ? Is it supposed to be a way for the aristocracy to give their input into society ? Why stop at merely making the threshold a bachelors degree, and letting those who don't understand law serve, why not require law degrees ? Assuming that a system of "trial by the elite" is desirable, trial by jury is not an effective way to implement such a thing.

Re:I'm amazed. (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#414558)

Don't forget, the attorney for the other side gets to cross-examine.

Re:Of Course.. (2)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#414559)

"Sorry, the mechanism for deciding disputes was in place... The Republicans just didn't like the decision that was made."

You are right, they didn't. And that's why they made a big stink. But that alone doesn't invalidate their claim OR my point. The case was kicked up the the US Supreme Court on the grounds that the state court made a ruling that conflicted with the Constitution (voter discrimination based on county of residence). You may not agree that this condition held, but regardless it's not a matter the state court can decide. Since the conflict was at a higher level, the higher level court had to be invoked.

But all these details are beside the point. The point the OP was making was that non-criminal matters are being decided by judges. My response is: who else? The decisions have to be made by SOMEBODY.
--

Re:Rewriting the law (3)

werdna (39029) | more than 13 years ago | (#414560)

Common law adjudication, though it moves glacially at times, tends to adapt quite well and to yield just results in the end. While it took five or ten years to fully sort out the patent-like protections earlier courts gave to Copyrights, resulting in the very balanced and "almost-right" (Altai) measures of infringement used today, the Courts did that entirely on their own, with only an eighteen month period where anyone took "look and feel" Copyright claims seriously.

The latest string of cases result almost entirely from Congressional meddling in the general purpose acts. Regrettably, in overreaction to the suggestion that these "old laws are too out of date to work today," statutes like the NET act and the DMCA have modified Copyright law to become computer law -- and unsurprisingly a computer law that favors only the most powerful content-holders.

The law *IS* horribly unbalanced now that these laws have been passed. And virtually every time the Congress has considered the matter, things got worse. We were far better off letting the process work in its course through the slower, yet surer, vehicle of the common law.

All experts are biased. (1)

TechLawyer (182030) | more than 13 years ago | (#414561)

These experts will simply be biased in a way that benefits their employer, AAAS, or that furthers its legal/politcal goals, if any. There's no such thing as an unbiased "expert".

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (3)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#414562)

b) they're comprised of people too stupid to avoid jury detail. So if anything the average intelligence of a jury is somewhat lower than the mean.

Not everyone is dying to avoid their duties. And if there's any self-selection going on here, the process tends to choose those who care enough to do what they're supposed to do. However, it's worth adding that the jury is not entirely self-selected anyway, as both sides screen jurors.

On the other hand, people in more cognitive fields are used to analysing a situation rationally and logically. Just look at the cut and thrust of debate here on /. It's very similar to how a courtroom should be,

Not at all, and this raises exactly the problem -- allowing a particular group to dominate the proceedings is simply not a recipe for fairness. Could we expect a group of slashdotters to be impartial in a Napster trial, or a copyright infringement case, for example ?

Re:Courts need to be more "tech-savvy" (2)

Vryl (31994) | more than 12 years ago | (#414563)

Problem with the Napster trials is that there is no right and wrong. Its a political/social/philosophical thing.

One side thinks its fine for such a thing as 'intellectual property' to exist, and are prepared to do anything to protect it.

The other side sees the absurdities and horrifying implications of this view and wishes to repudiate it.

A courtroom is not really the place to decide these issues, and, in the end, probably wont be the place they are decided.

Re:Judge and Jury (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 13 years ago | (#414564)

As always, it is difficult to select an impartial jury, but that is true for any case.

It is virtually impossible to select an impartial jury given that neither side wants that anyway. Both sides get to eliminate a certain number of jurors they see as potentially 'hostile' to their position, and having a command of the issues would severely hamper an attorney's ability to sway that individual emotionally.

Ok, now for the Mathematicians, etc... (2)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 12 years ago | (#414565)

It would also be nice to get Mathematicians (Computer Scientists are "Mathematicians", not "Scientists"... history landed the field with a bad name). Scientists don't cover all of the new tech cases, and expert mathematicians are also needed.

Any good mathematician could describe to a judge how an algorithm is nothing more than a mathematical proof (see Curry-Howard isomorphism for a starter) with cut-elimination as the actual computation/processing, and digital data is nothing more than a natural number written in base 2 (see any good "intro computation theory" book). Therefore protecting all computer programs and data under first amendment rights which already protect mathematical things such as proofs and numbers. Now, if the law wanted to limit mathematical things based on the formalisms they are written in, such as writting your proofs in C++ or some other conventional programming language is not allowed protection, well, that would be completely arbitrary law, seeing as two seemingly different formalisms can represent the same mathematical thing and Godel's incompleteness proof showed how their can be no universal mathematical formalism. Such laws would literally choke the freedom of mathematical expression.

DeCSS, nothing more than a proof coupled with a nice big number. How can the law forbid formal mathematical proofs and numbers? Is mathematics limited based on formalism?

Re:Of Course.. (1)

alprazolam (71653) | more than 13 years ago | (#414566)

it should have been settled by duel. duh.

Hitting the point (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 12 years ago | (#414567)

If the AAAS presents the proper scientific perspective to the case, to cut through the mush thrown out by the lawyers and paid scientists from either side, then they would be much more impartial that what exists now.

Excellent point!
If the other side says "there is a great amount of debate in the scientific community about evolution" then the AAAS scientist can be in a perfect, non-biased position to refute that.

Terrible pity, you were doing so well. Not only is there a great amount of debate in the scientific community (e.g. between ``catastrophists'' [a relative term in this case] like SJ Gould and ``Orthodox'' Darwinians), but the evidence points squarely away from evolution in practically every instance.

For example, there are no proto-turtles, yet there are millions of turtle fossils. What happened? Was there an organism that went around collecting and eating proto-turtle shells and leaving everything else alone?

In this case, the AAAS rep would almost certainly be lying. Not a good thing in a court, although it is in reality pandemic.

Re:I hate the stupid questions marks in the articl (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 13 years ago | (#414568)

Instead of blaming microsoft, blame netscape's piece of shit browser. Page works fine in Opera.

Instead of flaming away because you *think* you know what the problem is, perhaps you should educate yourself on what you are commenting on first.

http://www.fourmilab.ch/webtools/demoroniser/ [fourmilab.ch]

Re:Agenda implies non-fact persausion (1)

Glasswire (302197) | more than 13 years ago | (#414569)

I was concerned about this too, but the evolution example is a good counter. There is usually a 'prevailing theory' in science at any given time and it would be a useful baseline for any judge/jury to know at least what the mainsteam scientific community thinks is a valid point-of-view. I'm not sure this should be characterized as having an "Agenda", since they are not trying to persuade to persue a goal, but simply articulate the current thinking on a subject.

Re:Adversary system (5)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 12 years ago | (#414570)

Furthermore, the whole premise of the American judicial system is that that the adversary system is the best way to get at the truth.

But does it work? And do most people think its even supposed to?

Let me ask you a question : If you have a defense lawyer, assigned his clients at random, and he wins every single case - never even plea bargins, just always wins an aquital - is he a good lawyer? Most people I've asked this question say yes imediately. Most are confused on how there could be any question. But if you look at real adversarial truth processes, its different.

If you had a professor assigned to thesis jurys that in every case he was there the thesis defense failed - no one ever got their thesis with him on the jury asking questions - would he be a good jury member? If you had a Defender of the Faith (formerly known as the Devil's Advocate) who presents an adversarial point of view when cannonizing saints, and not one person is made a saint during his tenure, is he a good defender of the faith? In these cases, most would say no - the point of the system is to weed out those truely unworthy, not to stage gladitorial fights between champions and praise the one that always wins. But we are saying the opposite when we praise a lawyer that always wins.

In theory, the adversarial justice system is there to find the truth. In practice, it seems to work to determine the truth. It's trial by combat - if Lancelot prevails, the queen's honor is intact, and the facts be damned. The idea that Lancelot would take a dive to make sure that the truth of combat occasionaly matches the facts is sacrilige.

Do I have a better solution? Incremental reforms perhaps, and having impartial scientific testimony is a great start, but it doesn't do to have no defense, unless you've finally bioengeneered a true philosopher-king. In the real world, we're likely stuck with the adversarial system, but that doesn't mean that we have to ignore its flaws, and the fact that it often isn't even trying to "get at the truth" is a pretty big one.

Kahuna Burger

Re:Impartial observer.. (1)

daftgirl (120274) | more than 12 years ago | (#414571)

The book you are thinking of is Robert A. Heinlein's _Stranger In a Strange Land_

Those people, iirc, were called "witnesses." If, for example, they saw a white house from a distance and only saw one side, they would only confirm that at the time that they saw it, that particular side of the house was white. They would make no claims that it was still white or venture an opinion as to the color of the other side of the house.

If we had people trained like this who could testify then this would be a good thing. However, in most cases where an expert witness is called in this may not be practical. Also, since which ever side has called the expert witness wants to find someone who will support their opinion, they wouldn't call upon one of these specially trained "witnesses" unless said witness would support their case.

Would it even be possible to establish something like this or would it be too difficult to obtain the necessary credibility for these people?

what's the guarentee?? (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 12 years ago | (#414572)

Aren't these scientists biased? Aren't ALL people biased in some way? I am not sure about the rest of you, but when I was in school I had teachers that were biased to prefer one way or another way of what was best. It's like M$ and win 95. M$ said that the browser was integrated part of the desktop, and now with the releases of win me and win 2k it pretty much is. The web browser is now the file manager. Many said otherwise before and it was not necessary, but we see it is more so now. Many people who were anti M$ complained that it was not fair, but today we see almost teh same thing with kde and konqueror.

The point is that everybody has an opinion about tech and how it should be taugh and what is right and not. What is to stop these 'paid' scientists from teaching their biased opinion? Furthermore what is to stop them from being bribed to teach a biased opinion?

Unless they are talking about teaching judges concepts in programming and such I see problems ahead.

I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
Flame away, I have a hose!

Re:Of Course.. (1)

Xuther (223012) | more than 12 years ago | (#414573)

I wish I had mod points right now. At best I can just say this post was informative. I used to be firmly pro-choice, I'd like to think I'm more enlightened now and realize that this is a very grey area.

Re:Impartial observer... (1)

Wurm42 (163620) | more than 12 years ago | (#414574)

Is anyone else reminded of the concept of an 'impartial observer' from that sci-fi book about a child who was raised by martians. Sorry, can't remember the name of the book, but it was also the first time I heard the term 'grok'.

The book is "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein. Definitely Heinlein's most controversial work, and one of the classics of American science fiction.

The "impartial observers" Shotgun mentions were called "Fair Witnesses" in the book. Basically, they were people who underwent years of training to develop perfect memory. They wore white robes when they were in 'witness mode'- a sort of trance state. The robes signified that the witness was 'recording' everything he/she saw and heard for probable use in court (Think of it as a visual warning that "everything this person sees and hears may be used against you in a court of law").

I don't think the "Fair Witness" idea really applies to the AAAS proposal, since Fair Witnesses were supposed to be walking video cameras, not experts in a particular field. However, while AAAS -appointed experts would not be completely unbiased and impartial (not possible), they would be a LOT better than experts selected, paid, and prepped by a plaintiff's legal team.

More info on Robert Heilein and "Stranger in a Strange Land" at http://www.wegrokit.com/siasl.htm (wurm42 not affiliated with site)

Re:Of Course.. (1)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 12 years ago | (#414575)

Every time I hear that word, I hear, "I hate you and what you think, and think that your priorities are misbegotten...

Hey now, that implies that such libertarians are capable of understanding that other people have different priorities than they do. Get it straight! Non-libertarians are just DUMB, they have to be "educated" (never convinced, never debated, just educated to the one truth) and once they achieve true understanding, then they will "understand" the self evident, only possible way a situation could be viewed.*

Sheesh, get the average libertarian talking about different people's priorities, they might start thinking that people of intelligence and good faith** can still disagree on issues where multiple rights and freedoms are ballanced.

*If anyone takes this as non-sarcasm, please let me know so I can calibrate.

**religious faith or sincere consideration, whichever is appropriate to the discussion.

Kahuna Burger

Not surprising at all. (2)

coupland (160334) | more than 13 years ago | (#414576)

This doesn't come as a surprise at all. Law is a knowledge-based industry, just like information technology. I would think any wise judge knows his own limits and welcomes impartial outside expert opinions. Just as a programmer couldn't possibly have the same depth of understanding of the law as a judge, so too a judge must be able to recognize when he's over his head in technical jargon. A very common practise, but it's still re-assuring to see that it's working.


---

Adversary system (3)

troyboy (9890) | more than 13 years ago | (#414577)

You raise a good point. Furthermore, the whole premise of the American judicial system is that that the adversary system is the best way to get at the truth. Both sides throw up their best arguments and the fact-finder decides who is right.

An example (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 13 years ago | (#414578)

I just got a copy of an old book called "Computer Lib/Dream Machines" originally published by genius/crackpot Ted Nelson, a very historical and visionary book about personal computers - the originals now go for over $100 IF you can find one - I got a 1987 Msft Press reprint ("Revised & Updated!") and am very disappointed by how much it is "poisoned" by all the self serving, Msft centric, revisionist history they interleaved in with all the original material - it is constantly bashing Mac's/Atari's or anything NOT tied to PC's or Msft. Disgustingly biased. This version of history is bunk.

media whores != scientists (1)

warez_d00d (122900) | more than 13 years ago | (#414579)

True scientists aren't biased, they do things "because they can".

The people who want to push their own agenda like to descibe themselves as 'scientists' hoping it gives them some kind of authority. Of course all that happens is that people are slowly losing respect for what the scientific community stands for...

Judge and Jury (2)

gus goose (306978) | more than 13 years ago | (#414580)

IANAL and IANAA (last A=American).

Law is a funny thing. The judge has many roles to play in the courtroom. But, primarily it is to determine which laws, if any, may have been broken. The judge then instructs the Jury what conditions must be met to find the defendant guilty. In an ideal world, there is no need for the judge to be familiar with the business related to the case. As an analogy, one does not need to be able to play golf to be able to determine which rules may be broken.

Although making the judge more knowledgable in the technology field is of some benefit, the important part is the Jury. The jury is meant to be your peers. It is my belief that jury should be golfers if the crime involved golf, and they should be technologists if the crime involved technology, etc.

As always, it is difficult to select an impartial jury, but that is true for any case.

just my thoughts...

Part of a Bigger Program (2)

regen (124808) | more than 13 years ago | (#414581)

This is actually part of a bigger AAAS Fellowship program. The fellowships, which will start next Academic Year, are the Science Justice and Public Policy fellowships.

AAAS currently supplies technical fellows to the Executive branch and the Legislative branch. I am quite friendly with several of the fellows as my SO is here in Washington, D.C. on a fellowship.

More information about the fellowships is availible here [aaas.org] .

If you have a Doctorate (or a Master's in Engineering) you should apply for one. You really get to influence public policy.

The trial of a cracker: (3)

PhatKat (78180) | more than 13 years ago | (#414582)

As a quite young man sits at the defendent's table waiting for the trial to begin, a representative from the AAAS hurriedly pushes past the flock of reporters to bring in their appointed expert witness.

Judge: Is this our expert witness?

AAAS: It is, your honor.

Judge: Please approach the bench, and state your name, for the court's records.

Expert Witness: 1 0w(\)z Jo0! (v)y Hax0r 5Ty]_3z /\r3 1337!!!!!

Judge: Umm... court reporter, did you, uh, did you get that?... Court Reporter?

Court Reporter: (looking at stenographic machine) Umm.... I don't think I have a "]_" on this thing. You know what? I'll just use a pen.



Check out my diary [diaryland.com] .

A readable medical LOC website? (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 12 years ago | (#414585)

Why not just create a medical Library of Congress website? A state of the practice one which explains it all in not ss technical a mannor and focuses on impact and implications rather than every last gorry detail. It would be the general consensus that determines what is there with articles about presently controvercial subjects which are properly labed as such. Then you can provide links to the proper references and more technical explainations on it and other related subjects. Get the information to the people and then when they get the general concept and will know what questions to ask. Not only judges but everyone.

Re:What a laugh! (2)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 12 years ago | (#414588)

Who says scientists and engineers(paid or unpaid) can't be bribed?

bribery is illegal. The lawyer could be disbarred, the case ruled a mistrial and the side that bribed the witness screwed. While possible it is hugely less likely than lawyers introducing bias into the experts they have legally hired.

"hey, there's a tiny chance of a problem with this system! we better stick with the one that we know the problem exists in at hight levels!" Thats real bright.

Kahuna Burger

Re:I hate the stupid questions marks in the articl (1)

sawilson (317999) | more than 12 years ago | (#414590)

I don't RUN windows. Nobody really uses windows. windows uses them.

Re:Part of a Bigger Program (1)

dlkf (261011) | more than 12 years ago | (#414592)

What would be nice is if they would do this for the USPTO. Maybe if the patent reviewers had some sound advice from someone in the field as to what is actually a new idea, they wouldnt be granting so many stupid patents.

Re:Do they have an agenda? (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414599)

Oh indeed, I just didn't want to start a discussion of a real modern-day issue when these discussions have been done to death on slashdot already. I tried to stay within "science" though.
Sorry for ambiguity.

FP

--

I hate the stupid questions marks in the article (1)

sawilson (317999) | more than 13 years ago | (#414600)

I think it would rule if there was something to demoronize microsoft formatted webpages on the fly. Mebbe some sort of localhost proxy type deal or plugin for netscape. I'm so sick of the damn question marks.

Re:human error (2)

jdfly (317892) | more than 13 years ago | (#414601)

How are AAAS members selected? What do we know about their expertise or their interests? AAAS gets so much power since they will be trusted by judges and judges will rely on AAAS members' opinions. Who willcontrol AAAS?

Membership in AAAS is largely merit-based: members are usually senior scientists who have a long record of distinguished research. Nominees are elected in a process that is similar to the peer review process for publishing scientific papers. In other words these people are as "expert" as you can get. Also, the society is largely symbolic; their only agenda is getting more funding for research. Also, it sounds like some sort of screening process will be in place.

The biggest challenge will still be getting the jury to truly understand the scientific concepts that are being presented. Ignorance of these principles can indeed lead to miscarriages of justice; just ask OJ.

Re:Of Course.. (3)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#414602)

In a true libertarian government, the judicial system would only have the ability to sentance[sic] people accused of crimes

I think I prefer our system where the judicial system first tries the case, then if found guilty, sentences crime committers.

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