New Phthalates Study Garnering Media Attention Purports to Show Only an Association – Not Causation – with Certain Mortalities

A new study regarding phthalates has garnered media attention this month, but readers should recognize the study’s limitations.  Some media coverage of this study blurs the important distinction between “association” and “causation.”

What Are Phthalates?

Phthalates, sometimes called plasticizers, are a group of chemicals generally used to make plastics more durable, or to dissolve other materials.  Phthalates may be found in products such as vinyl flooring, food wraps, intravenous tubing, lubricating oils, and some personal care products such as shampoos, soaps, and hairsprays.
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New Jury Selection Procedure in California: Is This the End of Peremptory Challenges? Is This the End of Batson?

Jury selection in California is undergoing significant change. In August 2020, the California legislature passed AB 3070, which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsome on September 30. Beginning in 2022, objections to peremptory challenges in criminal cases will have more teeth, including a list of presumptively invalid reasons for striking a prospective juror and a new standard of review for appellate review of a trial court’s decision. While AB 3070 does not apply officially to civil jury trials until 2026, the significant overhaul in procedure effectuated by this new law is likely to influence a court’s analysis of the civil jury selection process before that time. The new law’s aim is noble: to bring an end to discrimination in jury selection. However, critics, including many within the California judiciary, say the new procedure is “unworkable.”

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Maryland Adopts Daubert Standard for Admissibility of Expert Testimony

The Maryland Court of Appeals has retired the inflexible Frye-Reed standard and adopted the framework of Daubert for evaluating the admissibility of expert testimony. In Rochkind v. Stevenson (August 28, 2020), Maryland officially joined the supermajority of states that have considered the issue and now follow Daubert.

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