The Einstein Institute for Science, Health & the Courts is preparing the foundation for a new utility needed to prepare the nation's 21,000 courts to adjudicate the genetics and ELSI-related issues that foreseeably will rush into the courtroom as the Human Genome Project completes its genomic mapping and sequencing mission during the next ten years. This project initiates practical collaboration among courts, legal and policy-making institutions, and science centers leading to modalities for understanding the scientific validity of claims, and for the resolution of ethical, legal, and social disputes arising within the genetic testing and gene therapy contexts. Our objective over the ensuing decade is to facilitate genetic testing and gene therapy dispute management, and to avoid to the extent possible the confusion that characterized adjudication of forensic DNA technologies during the decade just ended.
The outlines of a genetics adjudication utility were given form by the 1995 Working Conversation on Genetics, Evolution, and the Courts, involving 37 federal and state judges in others in science and policymaking leadership positions from across the nation. The courts are becoming aware of genetics, molecular biology, and their applications, and judges want public confidence to be maintained as the profound and complex issues set in motion by the HGP begin the long course of litigation. Modalities for understanding the underpinning science are needed, as well as instrumentalities to assure that the best cases are actually filed and pursued. Because the courts are the front-line for resolving disputes, creative lawyering will assure an abundance of lawsuits. Many such lawsuits will request the courts to make policy judgments, perhaps best undertaken by state legislatures and Congress. Accordingly, a new adjudication utility should provide forums for judicial/legislative exchange, preparatory deliberations in anticipation of pressure to make rushed policies under conditions of great social uncertainty in the wake of human genetics progress.
EINSHAC will provide a design, planning, communications, and implementation center for a multipurpose resource project available to the courts. It will undertake over an 18 month period the following tasks, pilot-testing each and assessing the best organizational locales for those that exhibit promise:
The Project actively involves judges, scientists, and prominent lawyers. It will report to the EINSHAC Board of Directors that includes prominent judges, justices and scientists, several of whom participated in the 1995 Working Conversation on Genetics, Evolution and the Courts. As a continuing guidance forum, EINSHAC will conduct a Working Conversation followup in Orleans, Cape Cod in July, 1996.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Franklin M. Zweig, President, Einstein Institute for Science, Health and the Courts, Suite 750, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, Tel (301) 961-1949 - Fax (301) 913-0448 -E-Mail Einshac@aol.com
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