Risk Assessment in the Law: Legal Admissibility, Scientific Validity, and Some Disparities between Research and Practice
Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 215–229, March/April 2013
How to Cite
Krauss, D. A. and Scurich, N. (2013), Risk Assessment in the Law: Legal Admissibility, Scientific Validity, and Some Disparities between Research and Practice. Behav. Sci. Law, 31: 215–229. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2065
- Issue published online: 8 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
Risk assessment expert testimony remains an area of considerable concern within the U.S. legal system. Historically, controversy has surrounded the constitutionality of such testimony, while more recently, following the adoption of new evidentiary standards that focus on scientific validity, the admissibility of expert testimony has received greater scrutiny. Based on examples from recent appellate court cases involving sexual violent predator (SVP) hearings, we highlight difficulties that courts continue to face in evaluating this complex expert testimony. In each instance, we point to specific problems in courts' reasoning that lead it to admit expert testimony of questionable scientific validity. We conclude by offering suggestions for how courts might more effectively evaluate the scientific validity of risk expert testimony and how mental health professionals might better communicate their expertise to the courts. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.