Ensuring that forensic expert evidence meets a minimum standard of reliability is essential to preventing the unjust conviction of innocent people and to promoting public confidence in the judicial system. On behalf of UCS, we submitted a comment in support of the proposed amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence 702.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy has a mission of working to ensure that independent science can inform public decision-making without undue political interference. As the letter explains, “UCS has a significant interest in ensuring that information presented to juries as the product of scientific expertise is, consistent with Federal Rule of Evidence 702, “based on sufficient facts or data,” “the product of reliable principles and methods,” and, importantly, reflecting a reliable application of the latter to the former. Clarifying that courts should impose a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard in analyzing these questions is critical to meeting those goals.”
The comment letter discusses both the 2016 PCAST Report and the Trump-era DOJ Statement’s criticisms of the PCAST Report-which are not scientifically supported, are inaccurate, unverifiable, and unreliable, and yet “evince an intention to continue proffering forensic experts without due attention to verifiable error rates.” The letter also discusses additional indications that FBI forensic experts may be disinclined to follow the scientific recommendations of the PCAST Report. As the comment letter states, “Given these efforts to undermine scientific recommendations aimed at ensuring that forensic experts do not overstate the certainty that attaches to their analysis, it is imperative to establish clear judicial standards governing admissibility.”
Read the comment letter here.