Science on Law's Terms: Implications of Procedural Legitimacy on Scientific Evidence
Scientific evidence is increasingly relied on in litigation. Discussions and debates aimed at enabling courts to make the best use scientific evidence are therefore critical. This thesis adds the perspective of procedural legitimacy to the science and law dialogue. Procedural Legitimacy is the concept that consistent adherence to legal procedure maintains the overall legitimacy of the legal system, and the validity of its outcomes. I argue that to maintain legitimate legal outcomes, procedural rules must be applied consistently and vigilantly to scientific evidence. This means that admissibility rules must be applied properly to scientific evidence, and that admitted scientific evidence must be duly scrutinized and weighed against the legal standard of proof. This ensures that the legal outcome will be based on valid legal facts. When the law is applied to those legal facts, litigants are legitimately bound by the judicial decision, despite the risk of factual inaccuracy.