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Justice Speeches

2003 State of the Judiciary
Thomas Joseph Moyer
September 11, 2003

Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer

State of the Judiciary

Sept. 11, 2003

Madam Chair and officers of the Conference, invited guests, my colleagues. I thank the Judicial Conference for once again providing me with the opportunity to share my thoughts regarding the state of the Ohio judiciary. Judge Karner and Executive Director Rohrs, I express the gratitude of all of us at the Supreme Court for the constructive working relationship we have sustained during the past year and pledge to you our continued collaboration with the Conference as we work to improve the administration of justice in Ohio. I join with others in congratulating you on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Judicial Conference.

In 1963, America found the Beatles, lost a president, and marched on Washington.

1963 was the year of the first artificial heart, the first liver transplant and the introduction of the tranquilizer, valium.

It was a hectic time; at least that is how it seemed. But from the perspective of today, it was a walk in the park.

Today, we are too busy for jet travel. We teleconference instead.

Laptop computers now have the power once reserved for a Mercury rocket scientist.

And today, medical research has once again placed human design on the drawing board.

As for the next 40 years, researchers are already drawing the blueprints. Work has begun on quantum computers that will far surpass the best technology that enhances and invades our lives.

Scientists predict that within 40 years we will know whether there is extraterrestrial life.

Rodney Brooks, director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, predicts a merger of flesh and machine ? students with computer chips implanted in their brains. Brooks writes \"that in just 20 years the boundary between fantasy and reality will be rent asunder.\"

A science historian observed that \"science stands at the center of every dimension of modern life,\" his words a perfect echo of Alexander Hamilton, who said that all of society\'s issues will find their way to the courts. With science pervading our future, it is inevitable that the boundary between courtroom and laboratory will be blurred.

Today clinical trials offer the possibility of gene therapies that could eliminate debilitating diseases; and we are promised that we will not awake from the dream that children will someday be born free of birth defects.

In the environment, bio-remediation of hazardous materials could lead to the reclamation of abandoned industrial sights and chemical spills.

But the promise could be matched by the perils.

Stephen Palumbi writes in the Evolution Explosion that today \"we humans can alter the evolution of the species around us, usually making them better competitors, pests and parasites.\" But, he adds, we do so \"at our own expense.\"

Genetic screening could raise new legal challenges for doctors and insurance companies. Already there have been protests of genetically modified foods, and worries that genetically modified animals could have unintended consequences in the wild.

The conflicts of science and society converge on the courts, challenging the role of judge as gatekeeper.

We need not replace our robes with lab smocks, but we do need to develop an understanding of how to discern the difference between well-researched science and scientific claims.

Much of what you are learning here is a product of the work of Dr. Franklin Zweig. I am personally indebted to Dr. Zweig for the science to which I have been introduced, and I thank him, the staff of EINSHAC and the instructors he has assembled for you this week.

Dr. Zweig has sharpened the focus on the role of the courts at the vanguard of resolving the conflicts of society and science. To quote Dr. Zweig:

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