Describe how the Daubert Standard differs from the Frye Standard.

Answer these questions in a paragraph or more. Use teh prompts below for assistance.

1) Describe how the Daubert Standard differs from the Frye Standard.

The Frye Standard involves the general acceptance of a theory or technique within the field of science. Basically, if it’s good enough for the scientific community, it’s good enough to be presented in court. This is still the standard in many states.

The Daubert Standard has been accepted at the federal level and is the standard in several states. The Daubert Standard uses the Frye Standard as one of its prongs of its reliability component (in addition to whether the theory can be tested, whether the error rate is acceptable, and whether the theory has faced peer review). In addition to reliability, the court must decide whether the testimony is relevant to the case and whether its probative value outweighs the potential prejudice it will produce.

Although several answers discussed that Daubert was an “improvement” over Frye, it really just added more requirements without increasing the scientific rigor. Some of these requirements are redundant. For example, if a theory is generally accepted within a scientific discipline, it’s going to be (a) peer reviewed and (b) testable. The requirement of “an acceptable error rate” sounds nice, but because no one has ever defined what constitutes an acceptable error rate, it’s kind of meaningless. The biggest actual difference involves the “relevance” and “legal sufficiency” components. These are both determined by the court. Thus, even if the science is sound, the court can prevent the testimony if the court wants to. In practice, this can be very subjective. In fact, in cases like Daubert, the court often prevents scientific testimony about increased vulnerability or rates of exposure because it views the relationship between the cause and effect as tenuous. For instance, I’ve read cases where an epidiomological analysis of the effect of a particular chemical on a particular health issue was judged to be too prejudicial (e.g., “You say that Chemical X causes cancer, but people who have no exposure to Chemical X get cancer, so how do you know that this particular chemical caused this particular case of cancer? Maybe the plaintiff would have gotten cancer anyway.”). So, the biggest difference between the two standards is that a lot of the deference to science has been decreased in favor of the discretion of the judge.

Now, I don’t expect you to know or state all of these things, but I do expect you to do more than copy and paste information from the PowerPoint slides. You should give some analysis.

2) What are some advantages that Science has over other ways of knowing?

The main difference between science and other ways of knowing is that it involves a falsifiable test. In fact, several elements of science can appear in logical deduction; that’s why hypotheses have to be logical and based on previous observation. To some extent, logic can be “peer reviewed,” in the sense that legal judgements can be reviewed in the appeals process to make sure that the reasoning of the decision is sound. Only science, though, creates a falsifiable test.

Science can overlap with authority, because scientists are often authorities. However, there is a difference between asserting that something is true and proving evidence that something is true. Also, while authority relies on credentials, science does not; if the methods of the test are sound, it doesn’t matter who is conducting the test. To put it another way, with science the value of the knowledge lies within the process, not the person.

In many respects, science is the opposite of intuition in the sense that science has rigorous rules, while intuition is an impulse. Similarly, intuition is based on feeling rather than observable tests.

3) Describe the rationale for having a mental health court.

Most people were correct in identifying that mental health courts tended to be for non-violent, non-habitual offenders whose problem was thought to lie in the individual’s psychological disorder. However, several people failed to mention why a separate court would be helpful. The real advantage is that the people involved in the mental health court develop a certain familiarity and expertise dealing with these types of cases. They are familiar with the terminology, the research, the available treatments, etc. So, rather than taking a long time looking into the minute details of these individual conditions, judges and other personnel come at the case with a pre-existing knowledge base. The use of these course is associated with decreased recidivism, which is a good indicator of effectiveness. With most psychological disorders, increased stress is associated with increased symptom severity, and prison can be very stressful. The fact that this defendants are able to avoid prison and receive effective treatment is likely the reason for this decreased recidivism

4) Describe how cognitive load can be used in lie detection.

Cognitive load involves being occupied with a mental task. So, the more difficult or numerous the tasks, the “heavier” the load. The use of cognitive load as a means of lie detection is predicated on the idea that someone who is lying goes into an interview with a higher cognitive load than someone who is not lying. Lying, after all, involves maintaining an alternate narrative to what actually happened. So, rather than recalling an event based on actual memory, a liar has to remember the fabricated narrative and how it differs from the real narrative. Thus, by further increasing the cognitive load (by asking one to tell the story backwards or come up with details on the spot), you are making it more difficult for the person to keep the story straight (i.e., rather than just reporting the information, the task now requires coming up with new information that fits into the fabricated narrative in a consistent manner). This increases the chances that the person will slip up and report a detail that is inconsistent with their overall story and get caught in the lie.

5) What are some reasons that suspects provide false confessions?

There are several reasons that individuals provide false confessions. First, some are doing it voluntarily. They may think that they actually committed a crime due to some psychotic condition, or they may know that they did not commit the crime but are confessing to it for attention or to protect someone else. Second, police may convince the suspect that they have enough evidence to charge the suspect for a more serious crime (even when they don’t) and make pleading to a lesser charge sound like the only option. Finally, the suspect may not know what happened when the crime was committed, and this confusion or anxiety makes them susceptable to police coercsion to the point where the suspect comes to believe that he or she actually comitted the crime. In some cases, the interviewer may contaminate the interview by providing details (perhaps accidentally) of the crime that later make it in to the suspect’s narrative, increasing the perception of guilt.

6) Describe some interview techniques that help to minimize the chances of creating false memories? Why are these techniques effective?

Basically, I was looking for you to discuss aspects of the cognitive interview (e.g. not interrupting, avoiding leading questions, etc.) and why they are effective in minimizing false memories. One problem I noticed was that people conflated the eyewitness identification techniques (e.g. lineups) with the “interview techniques” that the question requires. I didn’t count off for discussing identification techniques, but if you have a one-paragraph answer, and half of your answer isn’t addressing the question, you were more likely to lose points. A second problem that I noticed was that many people discussed the cognitive interview but didn’t address the second part of the question: why it works. You did lose points for failing to address this.

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