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Serious Science for Serious Lawyers: A Different Kind of Legal Seminar

By Andrew Mishlove on March 18, 2015


I just turned 60 and I feel great. One of things that keeps me feeling young is realizing that I’ll never stop being a student of my craft. I am also gratified to be a teacher. I enjoy organizing and directing legal seminars; and, I particularly enjoy leading small group trial advocacy training sessions.

So, I’m really excited about a new law course from the National College for DUI Defense that I have the honor of directing: Serious Science for Serious Lawyers, The NCDD Advanced Course on Blood Analysis and Trial Advocacy, a week-long course that will be held in Fort Collins, Colorado this June.

Here is what it’s about, by way of a story that is true in spirit (but, technically fictional). A lawyer, let’s call her Jane, discovers a major flaw in the way her client’s blood test was done in a DUI case. The test may or may not be valid, and there is no way to know for sure. It’s one of those examples of bad forensic science that turns up frequently, and has historically lead to false convictions (see my blog on the Brandon Mayfield case). She goes to trial and does all the right things: she explains that the bad driving was due to road conditions; showed that field sobriety tests were normal; demonstrated that her client appeared normal; and totally refuted the testimony of the lab analyst on the defective blood test.

Then she lost. Afterward, a juror said to her, "Well, maybe there were problems with the blood test, but you didn't prove it was wrong."

Jane Lawyer was infuriated! The burden is on the state to prove that the test is correct! The jurors were told that time and time again!

Lawyers who fight DUI cases know this scenario all too well. The number that the blood test machine spits out has a mystical, talismanic quality with the jury. Even when we are right on the science, it’s hard to win. Why? Because although we may be learned in the science, we need to improve our skills in communicating scientific concepts to the jury. That’s why we developed Serious Science for Serious Lawyers.

I've been at this for 34 years. I've tried over 300 jury cases and I've won far more than my share. But even at age 60, there is much to learn; and a skill that is learned must be constantly practiced and honed. It keeps me feeling young (that, and the mountain biking). I've attended many DUI seminars over the decades, including in-depth trial advocacy courses,,such as the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, and the ACS forensic science courses; and they excellent. I haven't missed an NCDD Summer Session in 15 years, and every one was extraordinary (and this summer's 20th anniversary edition promises to be the best yet). Until Serious Science, however, there has not been an in-depth science course that focuses on how to communicate scientific concepts to the jury.

Serious Science for Serious Lawyers will be a week of in-depth learning and practice, with some of the best scientific experts and trial advocates in America. It will be the most advanced course of its kind, linking forensic science with trial advocacy. We are delighted that our trial advocacy faculty is being led by Marjorie Russell and Francisco "Paco" Duarte, renowned for their work at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College. If you’re a lawyer, please consider spending a week in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado -- expanding your professional skills and personal horizons! If you’re not a lawyer, rest assured that there is a group of trial lawyers dedicated to their craft, who are always seeking to improve their skill at fighting for justice.

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