The (near) irrelevance of Daubert to criminal justice and some suggestions for reform

Am J Public Health. 2005;95 Suppl 1:S107-13. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.056333.


Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc should have an extraordinary impact on criminal litigation, because there is rarely a criminal trial that does not rely on some form of expert testimony. In fact, it is almost irrelevant. Despite the frequency of prosecution proffered scientific and expert testimony in criminal cases, Daubert is rarely invoked to challenge it. In civil cases, when expert testimony is challenged in criminal proceedings, the outcome could not be more different. Because most violent crimes are committed by the poor, their court appointed advocates--overworked and under-financed--are not up to the challenge. In the absence of a system of effective representation, Daubert will not improve scientific evidence in criminal cases. The only way to guard against the misapplication of forensic science is to impose controls and reforms long before the cases come to court.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Criminal Law / standards*
  • DNA Fingerprinting / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Forensic Sciences / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Forensic Sciences / methods
  • Forensic Sciences / standards*
  • Humans
  • Judicial Role*
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Montana
  • Public Policy*
  • Rape / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Science / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Science / standards*
  • Supreme Court Decisions*
  • United States