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Why we should focus on science at the bar:from the point of lawyer's view

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Abstract:

New technology has now become widespread among society without enough assessment of its potential risk. Therefore, many people are anxious, and sometimes, people want to bring a case before court in order to determine whether society should admit such a new technology or not.

At the same time, lawyers are confused at such scientific dispute. We lawyers tend to think risks are known clear by “enough” scientific assessment. Lawyers believe there must be incontrovertible scientific evidence, and if lawyers can submit it, they are sure to win the case. If lawyer find contradictory or controversial scientific evidences against their opinion, they tend to think those are “wrong”. Lawyers try to find only supporting scientific evidence for them and, at the same time, they hide any contradicting evidences.

The Japanese Supreme Court seems to think that right scientific evidence must lead to a single conclusion. But many scientists are shocked when they know such a thought of lawyers. According to such thought, the scientific evidences with some doubts are not credible.

At the Bar, if the expert witness testifies to uncertainty, it triggers very strong cross-examination. The lawyer looks for some claims on which scientific experts themselves admit any uncertainty or doubts for the purpose of reducing credibility in the eyes of judge. The lawyer will indicate the expert’s testimony has an important deficiency and therefore he is not a credible witness. In the adversary system in the Japanese civil procedure, in general, the witness is prohibited from testifying freely.

In this way, lawyers, judges and people struggle to find “certainty” in the heap of what is called “scientific” evidence, in spite of the fact that all scientific evidence has an element of uncertainty.

As a result, lawyers are often guilty of distorting the scientific evidence in court in order to win the suit.

In a Court, expert witnesses who testify with ambiguity are not considered credible. This often discourages scientists from giving testimony, and causes mistrust between scientists and lawyers. From the standpoint of scientists, if they say that they know about what they do not know, it breaks the code of conduct which the Science Council of Japan requires. And where scientific uncertainty exists, they don’t always provide a single answer. Their answer will depend on various conditions because, as of now, science is always moving forward.

The society of scientists and the society of lawyers seem to be too far apart.
Their educational backgrounds, working environment and values system are so different each other. The problem is not only that society of scientists doesn’t communicate “how science works”, but also the society of lawyers doesn’t communicate “how justice works”. This lack of communication obstructs the collaboration between scientists and lawyers.

Science seeks truth. Law seeks justice. The purpose of two parties differs from each other, but both of two can collaborate to reach good legal conclusion with healthy scientific knowledge.
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Association:
Name: 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions
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http://www.4sonline.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p422098_index.html
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MLA Citation:

NAKAMURA, Tamiko. "Why we should focus on science at the bar:from the point of lawyer's view" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Komaba I Campus, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p422098_index.html>

APA Citation:

NAKAMURA, T. "Why we should focus on science at the bar:from the point of lawyer's view" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Komaba I Campus, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p422098_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: New technology has now become widespread among society without enough assessment of its potential risk. Therefore, many people are anxious, and sometimes, people want to bring a case before court in order to determine whether society should admit such a new technology or not.

At the same time, lawyers are confused at such scientific dispute. We lawyers tend to think risks are known clear by “enough” scientific assessment. Lawyers believe there must be incontrovertible scientific evidence, and if lawyers can submit it, they are sure to win the case. If lawyer find contradictory or controversial scientific evidences against their opinion, they tend to think those are “wrong”. Lawyers try to find only supporting scientific evidence for them and, at the same time, they hide any contradicting evidences.

The Japanese Supreme Court seems to think that right scientific evidence must lead to a single conclusion. But many scientists are shocked when they know such a thought of lawyers. According to such thought, the scientific evidences with some doubts are not credible.

At the Bar, if the expert witness testifies to uncertainty, it triggers very strong cross-examination. The lawyer looks for some claims on which scientific experts themselves admit any uncertainty or doubts for the purpose of reducing credibility in the eyes of judge. The lawyer will indicate the expert’s testimony has an important deficiency and therefore he is not a credible witness. In the adversary system in the Japanese civil procedure, in general, the witness is prohibited from testifying freely.

In this way, lawyers, judges and people struggle to find “certainty” in the heap of what is called “scientific” evidence, in spite of the fact that all scientific evidence has an element of uncertainty.

As a result, lawyers are often guilty of distorting the scientific evidence in court in order to win the suit.

In a Court, expert witnesses who testify with ambiguity are not considered credible. This often discourages scientists from giving testimony, and causes mistrust between scientists and lawyers. From the standpoint of scientists, if they say that they know about what they do not know, it breaks the code of conduct which the Science Council of Japan requires. And where scientific uncertainty exists, they don’t always provide a single answer. Their answer will depend on various conditions because, as of now, science is always moving forward.

The society of scientists and the society of lawyers seem to be too far apart.
Their educational backgrounds, working environment and values system are so different each other. The problem is not only that society of scientists doesn’t communicate “how science works”, but also the society of lawyers doesn’t communicate “how justice works”. This lack of communication obstructs the collaboration between scientists and lawyers.

Science seeks truth. Law seeks justice. The purpose of two parties differs from each other, but both of two can collaborate to reach good legal conclusion with healthy scientific knowledge.


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