Friday, March 03, 2006

The Stem Cell Trial: 'Reaching for The Water Pitcher'

The California stem trial is now in the hands of the judge, who is awaiting final written arguments that will be filed later this month.

The arguments will include statements from both sides and then a rebuttal from each. They are due by March 15.

The trial came to an end on Thursday with perhaps only one reporter in attendance, Andrew Pollack of the New York Times. He reported:
"Don C. Reed, a supporter of stem cell research who watched the entire trial, said the plaintiffs seemed disorganized and nonaggressive.

"'There was a great deal of reaching for the water pitcher,' said Mr. Reed, whose son was paralyzed in a football accident. 'It was not at all the savage attacks I had expected.'"
Reporter Paul Elias of The Associated Press took in Wednesday's proceedings. You can read his report here. Russell Korobkin, professor of law at UCLA and a senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (not to be confused with the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland), commented on the trial in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. He said the court challenge to the California stem cell agency was an example of "frivolous arguments" made "to obscure issues or just to create delay."
"What is most troubling is not that the plaintiffs' arguments lack legal heft but that they no doubt realize this, yet argue anyway. The three groups fighting Prop. 71 — two pro-life associations and an anti-tax organization — are not what you would describe as passionate about technical governance issues. But because they know the state cannot issue the bonds to fund research while litigation is pending, they are using weak legal justifications to delay the inevitable," Korobkin said.
One of the attorneys in the case, David Llewellyn, is a graduate of the UCLA law school, but did not have the opportunity to study under Korobkin, who joined the faculty only in 2000.

The stem cell agency also received some attention this week on "Forum," a program on San Francisco public radio station KQED. Discussing CIRM were Christopher Thomas Scott, executive director of the Stanford Program on Stem Cells and Society; California state Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento; Jesse Reynolds, project director on Biotechnology and Accountability, Center for Genetics and Society, and Pilar Ossorio, assistant professor of law and medical ethics, University of Wisconsin Law School. You can listen to the program here.

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