In recent decades the use of forensic science in investigations and therefore its subsequent presentation within the courts has increased exponentially, fuelled by an increase in scientific advances, development of databases and greater access to scientists and their expertise. This explosion in the use of forensic evidence has not been limited to one single scientific domain, as there are a broad range of scientific disciplines, encompassed by the general umbrella term' forensic science'. Many of these involve commonly applied methodologies and are accepted by the courts with limited scrutiny. Where tensions exist concerning the use of science in the courtroom is when novel or emerging sciences and scientific techniques are introduced. This may be particularly evident when the demands of the investigatory phase, where those working want to apply all possible tools at their disposal to gather as much evidence as possible and the needs of the courts, where the evidence must scientifically robust and admissible for it to be presented before a jury, come together. This paper examines the implications for the court for emerging or novel sciences and scientific techniques. In such cases, the potential rewards of implementing the scientific process and the information these may contribute to an investigation provides a temptation to investigators to push for their operational use, with the unintended consequence of posing an issue to the court when considering whether to admit the evidence into the judicial process.
Scientists are increasingly becoming better prepared to communicate science in a variety of different settings, yet significantly less attention has been paid to communicating science in the courtroom, a setting which carries major societal impact. This article explores key issues surrounding science communication in the courtroom. We outline a conceptual system for communication training that includes ideas about fostering greater collaboration across different stakeholder groups, and training expert witnesses to communicate scientific evidence in ways that are accessible and accurate. Critical to this concept is supporting communication that upholds the integrity of the science, while also maintaining expectations for interactions in the courtroom.