Re: Judge Jones discusses his opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Feb 28 2006 - 08:22:07 EST

*Am I to conclude that in the US legal system, a judge listening to all
that expert evidence *from both sides* was just wasting his time? And
the experts on both sides were also wasting their time? Do US judges
have no obligation to avoid the wastage of time? Can US judges make
completely arbitrary decisions about what happens in their courtrooms?*

Judges in the U.S. have broad discretion to determine the scope, timing, and
order of testimony. A Judge is not required to hear expert testimony on an
issue that is not relevant to the case. Even if there is an issue as to
which expert testimony is relevant, the Judge has broad discretion to limit
the number of such witnesses and the duration of their testimony. Further,
once a Judge receives expert (or lay) testimony, the Judge is free to
determine that it is not essential or otherwise irrelevant.

This happens every day in every trial court throughout the U.S. The last
patent infringment case I handled involved the use of ultraviolet light to
disinfect water. Each side presented two expert witnesses with Ph.D.'s in
fields related to the technology at issue. The Judge's thirty page ruling
made no mention at all of any of the expert testimony. He ruled on
different grounds that he apparently believed did not require reference to
the voluminous expert testimony presented at the hearing. Se la guerre.

There's nothing weird or negligent about this, it's just how the U.S.
adversarial
system works. The parties present the case, but at the end of the day the
Judge or jury makes the decision, and often the Judge or jury doesn't agree
with either of the parties. Whether this all is a "waste of time" is an
interesting question. Some would argue that the process has social value
simply in allowing parties to air their claims in a public forum, and that
we might expect "neutral" decision makers to discount the one-sided
presentations of the advocates. Others would argue that the system is
bloated and inefficient. The truth lies probably somewhere in between.

On 2/27/06, Don Nield <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz> wrote:
>
> David Opderbeck wrote:
>
> > / Further, once the expert witnesses
> > on both sides started talking about Intelligent Design, Judge Jones was
> > obliged to listen to what they had to say. And having listened at length
> > he was left with no sensible option other than to rule on the status
> > of ID. /
> >
> > Sigh. No, he wasn't "obliged" to listen to anyone about anything.
> > He's the Judge, he controlls the courtroom. Further, he wasn't
> > obliged to rule one way or the other once the evidence was
> > introduced. That's just not how courts work.
> >
>
> Am I to conclude that in the US legal system, a judge listening to all
> that expert evidence *from both sides* was just wasting his time? And
> the experts on both sides were also wasting their time? Do US judges
> have no obligation to avoid the wastage of time? Can US judges make
> completely arbitrary decisions about what happens in their courtrooms?
> Don
>
Received on Tue Feb 28 08:22:39 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Feb 28 2006 - 08:22:39 EST