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(Image: Courtesy of the University of Virginia)

Experts in forensics, statistics and the law will convene for a conference at the University of Virginia School of Law on March 26 to mark the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., which reshaped how judges evaluate scientific and expert evidence.

Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will deliver the keynote address at noon. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Law School’s Caplin Pavilion.

The Daubert ruling coincided with a surge in scientific research relevant to criminal cases, including the development of modern DNA testing that both exonerated hundreds of individuals and provided more accurate evidence of guilt.

“Leading scientific commissions have pointed out real shortcomings in the use of forensic evidence in the courtroom,” said professor Brandon Garrett, a participant in the conference and a principal investigator for the Law School’s Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensics Evidence, or CSAFE, projects. “The CSAFE collaboration, extending across four universities, including UVA, has been working with generous support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research these questions.”

Panelists will discuss how to develop better forensic evidence, how to analyze it more accurately in the crime lab and how to present it more effectively in criminal cases. Several contributions will be published in a special symposium issue of the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law.

The conference is sponsored by the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law and the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence.

The talks are free and open to the public. Attendees may contact Garrett at bgarrett@virginia.edu or (434) 924-4153 for more information.

Schedule available online here: https://content.law.virginia.edu/news/201803/conference-focus-evolution-forensic-evidence

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