University of Miami School of Law CourseLink Course Description - Online System
 StudentLink New   Concentration/Area of Focus Registration New     Attendance System New

Spring 2020

Course Description
After a brief survey of the many interactions between law and science—e.g., the role of the law in regulating scientific research, the role of scientists in regulatory decision-making, the prosecution of scientists charged with fraudulent use of federal research funds, constitutional cases over the teaching of evolution in public high schools, and heritage cases such as the dispute over "Kennewick Man"—the focus will be on the law regarding expert/scientific testimony in court. The course will include the history of the role of scientific/expert testimony, from Frye (1923) through the Federal Rules of Evidence (1975), the Supreme Court's rulings in Daubert (1993), Joiner (1997), and Kumho Tire (1999), the 2000 revision of FRE 702, and experiments with court-appointed experts, to the present. We will look at various kinds of scientific evidence: forensic evidence (e.g., polygraphs, fingerprints, toolmark identifications, and DNA individuation techniques); at the Supreme Court's ruling in Melendez-Diaz and its aftermath (2009); and the National Academies of Science report on forensic science (2009) and the President’s council’s report (2016); psychological and psychiatric testimony (e.g., battered woman syndrome, rape trauma syndrome, recovered memory, and predictions of future dangerousness); and the epidemiological, toxicological, etc., testimony encountered in toxic-tort cases. Time permitting, we may also be able to look at some recent cases concerning drug labeling, and some recent vaccine cases. The main focus will be on federal cases, but we will also look (in the context of examining the role of future dangerousness predictions in death-penalty cases) at some Texas cases; and at the line of Florida cases involving scientific evidence, including the situation since legislation was passed in 2013 changing FL Rule of Evidence 702 from Frye to Daubert, and the Florida Supreme Court’s 2018 decision not to adopt this change, and its 2019 decision to adopt Daubert after all!

Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
01-13-2020 - 04-21-2020   T  3:30 PM-5:20 PM G263

Course Frequency
This course is usually offered once every academic year

Course Information

Credits: 2
Pass/Fail Option: No
Method of Evaluation: Paper (written under the usual writing class requirements); class participation may also play a role in the final grade.
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
Writing Requirement
Special Attributes: None
Course Delivery:

Special Restrictions:
Law Track(s):
Litigation - Specialized
Bar Subject(s): None
Environmental Law (Area of Focus)   More information
Environmental Law (Concentration)   More information
Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Concentration)   More information
Course Book(s):
Textbook Required:
  • Textbook Name: Evidence Matters: Science, Proof, And Truth In The Law
    Textbook Type: Paperback
    Requirement: Recommended
    Author: Haack, Susan
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Edition: 2014
    ISBN: 978-1107698345
First Class Assignment(s):
  • Assignment: Choose any case with which you are familiar (preferably not from an evidence class) in which scientific evidence was important. Explain the evidence and its relevance to the case. Comment on whether you think it was well or poorly handled by the attorneys and/or the judge. This assignment should be 1 page, single-spaced; bring it to the first class.

    Recommended textbook: Haack, Susan, Evidence Matters: Science, Proof, and Truth in the Law. Cambridge University Press (2014); ISBN 978-1107698345

    TWEN/Blackboard/Course Webpage Link:

    Additional Information:
    Please be sure to register for TWEN course page after December 15th.



Contact Information:
Phone: (305)284-3541
Office: B455