Genomic Test Results and the Courtroom: The Roles of Experts and Expert Testimony

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 44 (1):205-215 (2016)
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Abstract

The rapid advancement from single-gene testing to whole genome sequencing has significantly broadened the type and amount of information available to researchers, physicians, patients, and the public in general. Much debate has ensued about whether genomic test results should be reported to research participants, patients and consumers, and at what stage we can be sure that existing evidence justifies their use in clinical settings. Courts and judges evaluating the utility of these results will not be immune to this uncertainty. As scholars increasingly explore the duty of care standards related to reporting genomic test results, it is timely to provide a framework for understanding how uncertainty about genetic and genomic tests influences evidentiary considerations in the court room. Here, we explore the subtleties and nuances of interpreting genetic data in an environment of substantial discord related to the value that individuals should place on genetic and genomic tests. In conjunction, we discuss the roles courts should play in qualifying experts, expert testimony, and genetic and genomic tests given the intricate and complex nature of genetic and genomic information.

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