Most lawyers say that the reason that they became a lawyer was because they weren't good at math or science. Some are joking. Some are not joking. Either way, a criminal defense attorney who is on the cutting edge of his or her practice recognizes that this joke better not be true. Modern criminal defense requires attorneys to understand the law governing the admissibility of scientific evidence and the limitations of this evidence. Criminal defense attorneys must be able to understand and explain these technical pieces of evidence in a way that people without any scientific training can understand.
Your lawyer must understand the law governing the admissibility of scientific evidence. Your lawyer must understand the scientific evidence (and the weaknesses of the evidence). If you are being investigated by the government or if you have criminal charges pending against you, it is essential to begin developing a litigation strategy, and an essential part of developing a litigation strategy is understanding what types of evidence you will confront in the case.
Setting in motion a strategic plan to address scientific evidence in your Georgia criminal defense case:
- Know your jurisdiction and, more specifically, your judge. Is your judge a “let it all in and let the jury sort it” kind of judge? Or, is your judge the type of judge that will hold the state to it's burden when assessing the admissibility of the scientific evidence? If your judge is the type of judge that will actually exclude unreliable scientific evidence, well-briefed motions need to be prepared on the specific evidentiary items that need to be excluded.
- If your judge is not the type of judge that will actually exclude unreliable evidence, some difficult strategic decisions need to be made: (1) will you file a motion that will educate the State on what your arguments will be at trial; or, will you waive an issue that might otherwise win on appeal? Challenges to the admissibility of scientific evidence are arguments that you can make to the jury in a criminal trial. When possible, you want to rely upon the State's evidence or a lack of foundation for the admission of scientific evidence to challenge the admissibility of scientific evidence in a criminal case. If you can make the State's witnesses make certain crucial admissions regarding the unproven reliability of the scientific evidence, you have made substantial progress towards challenging the admissibility of scientific evidence in a criminal case.
- However, you and your lawyer need to make some strategic decisions that might impact your future at a very early stage of the case – well in advance of trial – regarding challenges to scientific evidence that will be raised in your case. It is critical that these decisions be well thought-out and considered. You will need an experienced criminal trial attorney to advise you on what should be held back until the time of trial and what should be challenged through aggressive and detailed pre-trial motions.
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