July 01, 2020 Feature

Message from the Chair

Julie A. Fleming

COVID-19 and the Need for Science-Based Solutions for Law and Policy

Our world has changed dramatically in the last several months. While little is certain about how the pandemic will shift in the next weeks and months, one thing is clear: SciTech issues will be at the center of addressing it, including:

  • data privacy, security, and reliability,
  • cybersecurity,
  • the use of smart devices, AI, and other technology in the provision of medical care,
  • how and when to rely on scientific data and recommendations and how to translate reliable data into day-to-day law and policy, and
  • scientific literacy necessary to separate reliable scientific research from junk science.

SciTech leaders and members are already operating in this intersection of law and science. You will find a variety of resources, such as a new series of short videos called SciTech Briefs addressing bite-sized legal issues and educational programs to give you the grounding you need to serve your clients and develop your practice, on our homepage. Join these conversations on developing science-based solutions for law and policy.


Leading this issue of The SciTech Lawyer is Machine-Generated Evidence by Alex Nunn. Alex addresses the distinctions between person-generated evidence and machine-generated evidence and the most appropriate ways to evaluate the reliability of the latter. Here’s an insider tip: Also check out the article Alex cites, Machine Testimony, which discusses the human element of looking at an evidentiary foundation for machine-generated evidence.

Antya Waegemann offers a fresh design perspective on rape kits, describing new ways to collect information while emphasizing victim-oriented sensitivity as well as evidentiary efficiency. Digital Forensics, Deepfakes, and the Legal Process by Agnes Venema and Dr. Zeno Geradts will get you thinking about how to recognize “deepfakes” and how their proliferation may affect the justice system. Natalie Ram’s Investigative Genetic Genealogy and the Future of Genetic Privacy discusses the prospect of universal and perpetual genetic surveillance and its significant risks to privacy. Rounding out this issue is Andria Dorsten Ebert’s exploration of whether “corpus linguistics” and the use of text databases is a better way to discern writers’ intent than traditional means of lexicography and A Review of the History, Pharmacology, and Legal Regulation of Vaporizers and Vape Products, concerning the dangers and regulation of vaping.


It has been my privilege to serve as SciTech’s Chair this year. Many thanks to all the Section members whose efforts keep SciTech vibrant and thank you to my fellow officers, along with numerous past Chairs and Katherine Lewis, for sharing their insight and counsel. And my deepest gratitude to Section staff Caryn Cross Hawk, Barbara Mitchell, and Leonel De La Mora. SciTech’s future is in good hands, as you will see in the Nominating Report published in this issue identifying the slate of candidates to serve in the 2020–2021 bar year. Onward!