Forensic Science & the Law

Quick Info
(3690.03)  Seminar
Justice E. Rondinelli; Adjunct Professor
3 credit(s)  2 hour(s);
In person.
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

This course will provide students with an enriched understanding of forensic evidence as it applies to the administration of criminal and civil justice. The course will blend both novel scientific and legal issues as they apply to the modern day fact-finding mission. The course will cover the scientific and legal basics, key terminology, a summary of court decisions, and admissibility standards. The students will benefit from expert presentations given by leading professionals from both the legal and scientific community. The guest experts will provide students with a valuable insight on the capabilities and limits of their respective disciplines.

Forensic science is the application of a scientific inquiry into a criminal investigation. As the majority of court cases are decided on questions of fact, the interpretation and evaluation of scientific evidence is not taught as part of the traditional courses in law school.
This course fills this gap, by introducing students to forensic sciences and to the theories and methods that govern their interpretation in a legal setting. The interaction between science and law will be analyzed from theoretical, legal and pragmatic perspectives.

The course will examine the evolution and current position of forensic science in Canadian courts. The process of adapting scientific argument to legal argument will be explored. Expert witnesses, differing standards of legal acceptance and leading cases will be surveyed. Prominent miscarriages of justice will be examined to highlight the utility and frailties of forensic science. Course themes will include legal vs. scientific truth and science vs. junk science and legal vacuums as they relate to scientific evidence..