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Flashcards in The Expert Witness Deck (19)

What is law?

Set of rules which mandate, permit or proscribe relationships within society
Suitable punishments made
Common law system


What is the Common Law system?

Precedents (incident happens for first time ever, judges make decisions and decisions can be made later based on that) set by earlier case law
1154 and Henry II- common law for all of the land
Initially by local knowledge
Development of appeals- people go through judicial system, false acusal


What is Scots Law?

Very unique system
Understanding of the principles of the law
Not proven verdict- main difference, can be guilty, not guilty, or unsure
Has to be corroboration in law- 2 people, Scotland tried to abolished this- 2 police officers to prove something


Where is the adversarial system used?

America and Ireland


What is the Adversarial system?

Arguing the validity of the versions of the ‘story’
Counsel (prosecution and defence) have no duty to present all the evidence
Accused does not have to give evidence
‘Right to silence’- stand and say “no comment”


What is the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1944?

Use right to silent and being obstructive, forensic and CCTV evidence can convict someone


What are the 3 features of the adversarial system?

1. The adjudicator- judge (ensure legal process is followed through) and jury (guilty or not guilty)
2. The evidence- handwriting, blood sample, fingerprint, forensic post-mortem
3. The rules- defence and prosecution, who can/can’t be expert witness


Where is the Inquisitorial system used?



What is the Inquisitorial system?

The court determines the facts of the case
Juge d’instruction- instructs police what to investigate
The judge cannot investigate on their own accord
Winning vs. Losing


Who can be an expert witness?

Anybody can be provided they have relevant significant experience- more typically people with academic of qualifications


What does the Expert witness do?

Offers interpretation of findings
Offer opinions- probability, not certainty - e.g. age, race bones
NOT to direct a verdict
Impartial and unbiased evidence
Scientific work for prosecution- initially police
Scientific work for prosecution usually commissioned by the police
Defence scientist can be limited
Prosecution scientist has greater time in an investigation


What does the second examiner do?

Assess the initial examination
Is it Relevant for investigation?
Efficiency of equipment
? Repeat testing
Can 1 person come to the same conclusion as another


What does a report consist of?

Names and address- never home address
Circumstances- where, how, who found the body
List of exhibits- blood samples
Work carried out
Use of assistants- chain of evidence has to be recorded
Appendices- e.g. blood groups (case dependence)


What occurs in court?

Preparation is vital
Precognition (meeting before case) can occur in Scotland
The witness box


What can laser scanning be used for?

Accurate down to 10 microns (red blood cell 7 micron)


What can digital reconstruction show?

Full rooms


What are some examples of the importance of the reliability of the expert witness?

DC Shirley Mckie- charged with perjury, expert witness wrong
Roy Meadow- munlhausous syndrome by proxy where parent (females) says child is ill when it’s not, psychological illness, involved Sally Clark case (lost 2 babies of cot death). Professor Roy Meadow- one death, two suspicious, three is suspicious (8500:1 cot death to occur). Lead to conviction of Sally Clark, lead to her death
Forensic Science Service in 2004-2005 dealt with 140,00 cases
Legal Services Commission estimates £130 million spent for expert witnesses


Where can expert witnesses obtain accreditation from?

Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP)
Expert Witness Institute
Forensic Science Society
Academy of Experts


What does the joint expert achieve?

Equal footing of both parties
Minimises expenses
Complexity of case minimised
Court resources carefully considered