|Genome Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues
DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop
|169. Genetics Adjudication Resource
Franklin M. Zweig
During the first 19 months of project operation beginning in March, 1997, the Genetics Adjudication Resource Project (GARP) has operated from the center of the judicial system. It has provided basic science and ELSI orientation to 884 judges in attendance at nine genetics in the courtroom conferences. Approximately 60 federal and state judicial faculty members experienced several conferences and now comprise a sophisticated teacher core within the Judicial Branch. Another 25 judges attended the first and last conference in the series, experiencing both the basic orientation and an advanced course that extended the basics to biomarker testing in the toxic tort context. The GARP has designed and implemented a unique and effective judicial educational technology. The GARP has created a collaborative relationship with the Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and has mobilized the participation of 250 neutral, independent scientists, many of whom, by virtue of their participation, have increased their legal system knowledge, thereby building bridges across the deep institutional chasm separating science and the courts. The GARP has collected the most thorough genetics-related legal literature to date, covering case law and exact statutes in 20 legal categories. This collection was published in August, 1998 as an Adjudication Source Book in conjunction with a 22 judge, 16 scientist Working Conversation on Genes as Property in the American Law Tradition. GARP has published a primer for courts as a dedicated theme issue ("Genetics in the Courtroom") in the American Bar Association's main line, judicial division magazine, The Judge's Journal (Vol. 36., No. 3, 1997.) One article (Walsh, Admissibility) was selected as the best of the ABA for 1997. The GARP has produced a durable hypothetical case library and workbooks as initial archives for judges' use in early case assignment. These accomplishments provide a platform for ELSI/genetics-related Judicial System leadership as the Human Genome Project's research moves toward establishing a reference map and sequence.
GARP objectives for the next three years include: (1) Conduct of a 1999 national neurogenetics in the courtroom conference; and California, Southeast, and Arizona/Southwest regional conferences on genetics in the courtroom for 500 additional federal and state, trial and appellate judges; (2) Conduct, in conjunction with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, of hands-on training for an expanded judicial faculty, dedicated leadership conference for the Chief Justices of our state courts, and a joint egislative/judicial conference; (3) Development of a model and procedural guidelines for the real time teleconferenced and videotaped testimony of court appointed expert witnesses in genetics-related cases; (4) an Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques Guide Book with respect to ELSI/Genetics issues, a means for courts to manage genetics-related conflicts without subjecting the parties to the stress of formal trials; (5) Creation of a plan for international Judicial dialogues on gene testing and therapy issues; (6) Completion of a video ELSI-genetics curriculum for courts, to accompany the volume entitled "Genetics in the Courtroom: Judge's Handbook" to be printed for distribution in January, 1999; (7) Completion of a background paper for courts on the state of genetic property doctrines and issues; (8) Completion of a law school moot court initiative to orient future judges and law faculty to the management of ELSI-genetics related cases; (9) conduct of a working conversation on the legal status of genetic counselors; (10) institution of an ELSI/Genetics teaching courtroom in the District of Columbia as part of the EINSHAC's newly-established Law and Science Academy in the Courts of the District of Columbia; (11) development of a case tracking and GARP impact evaluation system.
These resources will promote judicial leadership
on behalf of our society. Given the patchwork, inconsistent nature of state
legislation concerning genetic property, privacy, and discrimination, the
courts will be the bulwark of our ability to integrate new science with
our framework of emerging as well as established rights. Given the paralysis
of Congressional action, the Judicial Branch will be pushed front and center
to interpret and adapt the existing law to rapidly spiraling new technological
domains. It is timely and feasible to provide a durable and full toolbox
for a judiciary that will be tested as never before at the margins of changing
ethical precepts, social aspirations and high velocity science.
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