Identifier

etd-04012004-193144

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The intersection of science and law is very complex. The two disciplines frequently interact due to environmental issues. Expert testimony is most often the method used to introduce scientific data into the legal system. Advances in technology have allowed scientists to increase the preciseness and reliability of data produced. The development of the gas chromatograph and the recent microFAST gas chromatograph has greatly increased the amounts of data available to the legal system. The legal system has relatively recently developed a set of guidelines with which to evaluate scientific evidence and determine whether it should be admitted into trial. Previously novel scientific evidence such as the microFAST gas chromatograph would not have been admitted because it was not generally accepted. The new guidelines in admissibility, however, require that the relevance and reliability of the evidence be examined. A comparison of the mechanics of a conventional gas chromatograph to the microFAST gas chromatograph reveals that the two machines operate on the same basic theoretical principles. Since data produced by a conventional gas chromatograph is readily accepted by the legal system, this same standard of admissibility should be applied to the microFAST gas chromatograph. The increased rate of data production by the microFAST machine will help establish causation in trial and improve the relevancy of the scientific evidence. Reliability is established by adherence to quality control procedures and repeatability. This thesis examines the relationship between law and science and projects that data produced by the microFAST gas chromatograph will ultimately be accepted into the legal system.

Date

2004

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Edward Overton

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