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  1. #1
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    Question The Opinions of Expert Witnesses and the Extent to Which They Can Fulfill Their Role

    I am a third year Forensic Biology Student at the University of Kent, UK. I am currently working on my final year law project, the title of which is 'What is the role of the expert witness in the trial and to what degree do such witnesses accomplish this role?'. I would be interested in any responses to the last section of this title. I am looking particularly at the adversarial trial system, the Criminal Procedure Rules and also how the media after cases such as the Sally Clark case may have affected the role of expert witnesses in trial. Any replies would be fantastic!

    Many thanks

    Nikki Gosbee

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Opinions of Expert Witnesses and the Extent to Which They Can Fulfill Their R

    Quote Quoting NikkiGosbee
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    I am a third year Forensic Biology Student at the University of Kent, UK. I am currently working on my final year law project, the title of which is 'What is the role of the expert witness in the trial and to what degree do such witnesses accomplish this role?'. I would be interested in any responses to the last section of this title.

    To qualify as an expert witness, one must possess knowledge the average "man on the street" does not, as we see in the Federal Rules of Evidence. State evidence codes are generally similar in nature.

    In other words I could not testify as to the chemical composition of a substance I found at a crime scene, as I am not a chemist/scientist, however, I can testify what I found and what it appeared to look like, gummy, gooey, etc.

    Rule 702. Testimony by Experts

    If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.


    http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/#article_vii

    The role they play is increasingly crucial in today's society. Take for instance DNA. Years before it was introduced into the scientific community, if a person's blood were found at a crime scene, generally all they could do is match it with a type, A, B, etc. of the alleged criminal.

    Both the Prosecution and defense can have experts testify on thier behalf, and there are differences of opinion, yes. One psychiatrist can say a person is not psychotic, one can say he is.

    In today's scientific advancements, forensics are playing a larger role in court.

    The "trier of fact", be it Judge or Jury, has the ultimate power to accept or reject any expert testimony.


    I am looking particularly at the adversarial trial system, the Criminal Procedure Rules and also how the media after cases such as the Sally Clark case may have affected the role of expert witnesses in trial. Any replies would be fantastic!

    Many thanks

    Nikki Gosbee
    Media coverage or pre-trial publicity can influence potential jurors, yes. IF there is a high profile case, the Defense can file a Motion for a Change of Venue, meaning they will transfer the case to a district where the "locals" are not involved and any jury selection will not come from the area of the crime.

    Although jurors take an oath upon being seated to uphold the law, in today's real world, this is not always the case.

    Outside expert witnesses are generally paid to appear, and as such, present facts as thier expertise outlines, and pretrial opinion by the public has little if no impact on them.

    By outside, I mean an independent agency. A state employee/chemist can give testimony but he is not paid to do such except what his normal salary is as an employee.



    Does this help any?

    BOR *Bill of Rights*

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Opinions of Expert Witnesses and the Extent to Which They Can Fulfill Their R

    Hi Nikki

    There are lots of points here and it is a third year project.

    How about going back to the old system of 12 men honest and true?

    Sally would NEVER have been found guilty if we needed a vote of 12 to zero.

    And this would apply to many cases where 'experts' are in disagreement.

    The need for just ten was because of jury 'nobbling' or even intimidation and although this would apply to cases involving powerful or mafia gangs it hardly is the justice we need for a loving mother to be judged by.

    The first or one problem was not the expert witness but the system itself.

    This 10 to 2 majority for guilt is responsible for many injustices and particularly those of the medical kind where a parent or carer is blamed for a health problem to the child often when there is no history of problems against that parent or carer but the experts convince 10 but not 12 that their view of harm is correct.

    Many of these cases like the one you mention were later proved to be something else and again probably the wrong cause meaning that the release although correct is the wrong reason.

    Harry Clark vaccinated with a vaccine containing a toxic poison and dead 6 hours later but the release due to the finding of pathogenic organisms although Harry was not the slightest bit ill at 4.30pm that fateful day.

    And for Angela Cannings where the same information was known to both sides the conviction again went ahead.

    Six weeks after the Sally Clark trial at the same court came a case involving from memory Judge Harrison who said when experts are disagreeing we cannot second guess who is correct. He halted the trial and asked the jury to acquit straight away. BRAVO Judge Harrison.

    Before we use experts or anything we should remember that of common sense is paramount.

    Not only do the likes of Sally Clark suffer by experts getting it wrong but the very nature of why a million infants have died from SIDS usually after a vaccine with a toxic additive to kill everything living in the vaccine but miraculously not the recipient of the vaccine where experts claim it is an IQ enhancer to the infant. So by getting court cases wrong we endanger not just the case in question but the wider issues of what exactly is going wrong in general.

    Harry was dead but his IQ was raised enormously no doubt? Verstraeten Pediatrics Paper November 2003 again from memory. This paper represents a five fold change of data to get the required result ie mercury toxin injected into little babies gives them better brains and help make them tick a little. We cannot see the original data as it has been lost, stolen or burnt.

    So one aspect we need to look at is whether these kind of experts working for huge sums of money should be brought to book themselves rather than the people they testify against.

    In this respect Roy Meadow was tried but convinced two of three High Court judges he was an honest guy making a simple error. He did not fool the third judge.

    Roy Meadow has caused many injustices in public an private courts and this amounts to hundreds none of which have been reinvestigated and to my knowledge I know of two cases or more of the innocent parties still in prison.

    I think in any system where the expert gets paid more than expenses you will get witnesses bought by the hirer. There is need for witnesses to do this work out of public spirit and not to get money, knighthoods or life time professorships.

    Finally does an expert have the expertise in his area that is claimed? Shaken Baby Syndrome involves only three clinical signs and establishes guilt automatically. The same doctors reject harm of mercury poisoning with a hundred similarities with mercury poisoning. Where is the expertise in these notions?

    You would have to check if some of this this is going off topic though.

    I have some more ideas if you need them.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Opinions of Expert Witnesses and the Extent to Which They Can Fulfill Their R

    Quote Quoting quicksilver
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    Hi Nikki

    There are lots of points here and it is a third year project.

    How about going back to the old system of 12 men honest and true?

    Sally would NEVER have been found guilty if we needed a vote of 12 to zero.

    And this would apply to many cases where 'experts' are in disagreement.

    The need for just ten was because of jury 'nobbling' or even intimidation and although this would apply to cases involving powerful or mafia gangs it hardly is the justice we need for a loving mother to be judged by.

    The first or one problem was not the expert witness but the system itself.

    This 10 to 2 majority for guilt is responsible for many injustices and particularly those of the medical kind where a parent or carer is blamed for a health problem to the child often when there is no history of problems against that parent or carer but the experts convince 10 but not 12 that their view of harm is correct.

    Most jurisdictions require a unanimous jury verdict. The SC has only ruled if a criminal jury consist of 6, then it must be unanimous, otherwise it is up to a state to decide the #. I do believe a few states still have 6 for lower level crimes.

    In my state a criminal jury is composed of 12 members, for both felony and misdemeanors AND the verdict must be unanimous.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Opinions of Expert Witnesses and the Extent to Which They Can Fulfill Their R

    Thank you all for your comments. They are all really helpful. I want to get a feel for the real opinion of expert witnesses and how they feel about their role in the trial. Not being an expert witness myself I can only second guess at how an experts role may be made more difficult or how the law may help you to fulfill it better. I recieved 80% for my law essay plan today so any extra research that I could input from your responses would be really appreciated.

    Nikki

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