Progress, and Applications
of the Human Genome Project
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News Archive Edition
Human Genome News, July-September 1996; 8:(1)
In 1995, over 15 million criminal and civil cases were filed in U.S. federal and state courts.
The federal court system is small, with about 550 trial judges who preside in U.S. district courts and around 180 appellate judges. Federal courts, whose judges are appointed for life, hear about 2% of all cases filed. The remaining cases fall to about 29,000 judges presiding over separate and autonomous state court systems. Many of these judges are elected to office for a specified term. The overwhelming majority of cases involving law enforcement, commerce, and human relations are decided in state trial courts.
Observers are concerned that neither court system is prepared to handle cases involving complex genetic information. If courts can't screen and present the science so that juries can understand and process it in a fair way, verdicts may appear to lack foundation and create a crisis of public confidence in the courts. "The battle of experts often impedes the search for truth," notes Judge Ronald Reinstein (Superior Court of Arizona). "Judges have a responsibility to be proactive and mandate clarity and simplicity."
Arizona courts have adopted far-reaching jury reforms that permit jurors to ask questions, take notes, and discuss cases as they develop. Most courts do not, said Franklin Zweig (EINSHAC). "Too frequently," he added, "courts blind, gag, and otherwise limit jurors. Jury reform must keep pace with judicial screening of scientific evidence." In 1997, Arizona is expected to host the first large regional working conversation on genetics for judges and lawyers.
Return to the Table of Contents
Back to Home Page
The electronic form of the newsletter may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v8n1).
Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Home * Contacts * Disclaimer
Document Use and Credits
Publications and webpages on this site were created by the U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program's Biological and Environmental Research Information System (BERIS). Permission to use these documents is not needed, but please credit the U.S. Department of Energy Genome Programs and provide the website http://genomics.energy.gov. All other materials were provided by third parties and not created by the U.S. Department of Energy. You must contact the person listed in the citation before using those documents.
Base URL: www.ornl.gov/hgmis
Site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program