The science of climate change, energy sources, sustainable forests, and brain structure and function are advancing rapidly. When these topics end up in court, judges must make judgments about the admissibility of evidence and assess and rule on the reliability and validity of the evidence. Consequently, judges need familiarity with the scientific facts and concepts to be able to make these judgements.
As a result, scientific topics have joined the agenda of judicial training institutions and judges themselves, in order to provide judges the information and understanding necessary to play this role. Corresponding with the fast moving science, these topics are also often controversial. So programs for judges on such scientific topics must be impartial, fact-based, and pertinent for judges’ role and judicial norms.
How can the judicial training programs meet the ever-growing demand to ensure that judges have the tools they need to properly manage scientific issues in their courtrooms? What are the best methods for conveying scientific information and concepts to judges? How much can training programs address the ways that science comes into cases in addition to a focus on the science itself? How has the judicial training process advanced internationally and domestically? This panel will aim to tackle these questions and the multifaceted aspects of incorporating scientific topics and concepts into judicial training. Panelists dove into the evolution of judicial training, innovative programs that advance the level of science expertise including ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project and global Judicial Education Program, and best practices to communicate environmental science to judges. Our panel explored the role science and research training play within judicial training process to ensure justice in the context of environmental issues.
Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Sandra Nichols Thiam, Associate Vice President, Research & Policy, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, Minister, National High Court of Brazil; Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law; President, Brazilian Environmental Forum of Judges; Environmental Committee of the Summit of Chief Justices of Ibero-America; Secretary-General, UN Environment’s International Advisory Council for Environmental Justice
Paul Hanle, Ph.D., Project Leader, Climate Judiciary Project, Environmental Law Institute
Deborah Runkle, Senior Program Associate, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
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