July 01, 2015 Introduction

Education in Forensic Sciences: Tools for Judges as Gatekeepers

By Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, PhD

Archimedes’ famous shout of “Eureka!” as he ran from his bathtub through the streets of Syracuse illustrates the cooperation between the worlds of law and science. King Hiero had commissioned Archimedes to prove the guilt of the goldsmith in diminishing the gold content in the king’s crown. By weighing gold content in the crown through displacing water in his bathtub, Archimedes discovered the first law of hydrostatics—and offered science-based evidence.

Historically, courts have viewed science as an indispensable ally in their truth-finding function. This dependence on science is even seen in the Talmud in the sixth century B.C. A husband desiring a divorce contrived to have his wife and other guests become inebriated at a party. He carried his wife and a male guest to a couch, where he threw egg albumen resembling semen between them. Neighbors were called to bear witness to the alleged adultery. In response, the wife provided a medical expert’s testimony to establish that the fluid was not seminal fluid, but merely egg whites. Science was enlisted to resolve the matter.

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