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The Court of Science vs. The Court of Law: Too Different to Dance?

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Forensic scientists have been working within the medicolegal realm for well over a century, but the relationship is still rather awkward. These two dancers come from different backgrounds and are forged on blatently different philosophies, creating tensions that emerge in some of our most salient cultural discussions. This presentation will examine this strange dance, specifically: (1) how does the ‘court of science’ differ from the ‘court of law’?; (2) how can working within the medicolegal system compromise the fundamental tenets of the scientific method?; (3) can science really be used to illuminate events that occurred in the past, without them having been observed directly?; and (4) how does the current organization of our forensic system assist or hinder scientific goals and the concurrent allocation of justice? Examples will be drawn from the author’s 30+ years of experience working as a forensic anthropologist.

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