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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Professor Faigman cited by Seventh Circuit Judge Posner in Jackson v. Pollion

The court relied on UC Hastings Professor David Faigman's seminal text "Modern Scientific Evidence."
David Faigman

David Faigman

In an Oct. 28 opinion, the Seventh Circuit relied on two of Professor David Faigman's books; the opinion in Jackson v. Pollion was written by Judge Richard Posner, who is one of the most respected jurists in the country.

The case involved an Illinois prison inmate who claimed that prison health officials were deliberately indifferent to his hypertension in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the ground that neither defendant was deliberately indifferent. In the course of the decision, the court pointed out, citing Professor Faigman's book Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in Law, "a widespread, and increasingly troublesome, discomfort among lawyers and judges confronted by a scientific of other technological issue." Expanding upon that point, the court quoted Professor Faigman's book Modern Scientific Evidence: Standards, Statistics, and Research Methods for the reality that many lawyers exhibit a "math block"--an aversion to math and science. The balance of Judge Posner's opinion delved into the medical issues and concluded that "[t]he legal profession must get over its fear and loathing of science."

The opinion can be found here.

Professor David Faigman is the John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings, the Director of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy, and a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, at the University of California San Francisco.  He graduated from the State University of New York, College at Oswego, where he majored in Psychology and History. He then went to the University of Virginia where he received an M.A. in social psychology and a J.D. During law school, he served on the Virginia Law Review, was elected to the Order of the Coif, and received the Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize, awarded to acknowledge the best written work by a graduating student. After law school, Professor Faigman clerked in the chambers of the Honorable Thomas M. Reavley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Professor Faigman writes in the areas of science and the law, and constitutional law. He has published numerous books and articles concerning the use, or failure to use, scientific research in legal decision-making. His most recent book was published in 2008, entitled Constitutional Fictions: A Unified Theory of Constitutional Facts (Oxford Univ. Press). He is also the author of Laboratory of Justice: The Supreme Court's 200-Year Struggle to Integrate Science and the Law (Henry Holt/Times Books 2004) and Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law (W.H. Freeman 1999). In addition, he is a coauthor of the five-volume treatise, Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law and Science of Expert Testimony (2013-2014 edition) (with Jeremy A. Blumenthal, Edward K. Cheng, Jennifer L. Mnookin, Erin E. Murphy and Joseph Sanders). The treatise has been cited widely by courts, including several times by the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Faigman also lectures widely to judges and lawyers, and served on a panel for the National Academies of Science investigating the scientific validity of the polygraph.  He is currently a member of the MacArthur Network on Neuroscience and Law.

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