Science and the Legal System Authors’ Workshop
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Good morning and welcome. I am Jonathan Fanton, President of the Academy. I hope you are all rested and ready to engage in a lively discussion of your colleagues’ papers on this first day of the authors’ workshop. We have a full agenda and I look forward to the conversation.
Shari Diamond originally proposed an Academy study on Science and the Legal System two years ago, at a meeting of Academy members at Northwestern. The idea received robust support at that meeting, and indeed, over the past two years I have found it is a topic that resonates strongly among the Academy’s members, and not only those from the sciences and law. We are pleased at how the study has developed under Shari’s and Rick Lempert’s direction.
My own interest in this topic dates back to my days at the MacArthur Foundation. During my tenure as president, the Foundation launched a Law and Neuroscience Project that was one of the early systematic efforts to bridge the fields of law and science. Today, this research network continues to promote the accurate presentation of neuroscience in legal cases and explores how new knowledge from neuroscience can be used to improve the justice system. Joe Sanders and Nancy Gertner have been active contributors to this project, as has Jed Rakoff, who was a valued advisor to me during its creation.
The Academy study on Science and the Legal System explores similar issues in the context of the broader scientific community. Scientists’ willingness to get involved in the legal system has consequences for the quality of expert advice. This question has not been fully explored by previous studies, nor has prior work systematically examined the variety of alternative approaches that might be used to encourage and introduce better quality scientific advice.