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NCJ Number: 151722 Find in a Library
Title: Evidence and the Expert Witness
Journal: Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:26  Issue:1  Dated:(January-June 1994)  Pages:3-7
Author(s): C R Williams
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This analysis of the rules regarding the admissibility of expert evidence in Australia and other countries concludes that the adversary system works poorly in this area and that the use of court-appointed experts could solve many of the problems in the current system.
Abstract: English/Australian common law has developed a complex body of evidence law. Two other factors that have had a crucial role with respect to expert witnesses are the development of the adversary system and the common law acceptance of the view that the jury should be protected from that which is difficult to assess or potentially misleading. The judicial decision in the 1984 cases of R v Bonython expressed the test for determining whether expert testimony will be admissible. The current trend is to receive more expert testimony and to accept that more fields of knowledge require expert testimony. However, courts have sometimes been unwilling to receive new forms of expert evidence. Under the current system, the experts are inevitably partisan to some extent. However, the ability of juries to cope with conflicts in expert evidence is doubtful; often, juries probably rely on irrelevant considerations such as which experts appear the more confident and self-assured. Attorneys' lack of inhibition in attacking the other sides' experts increases the inability of juries to cope with conflicts of expert testimony. Therefore, recommendations such as those of the Canadian Federal/Provincial Task Force on Uniform Rules of Evidence deserve consideration. In addition, given juries' doubtful capacity to cope with conflicts of expert testimony in complex cases, consideration should be given to empowering that cases involving such conflicts to be tried before a panel of judges or person with adequate training to understand the conflicts. 7 recommended readings
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Accusatorial systems; Australia; Canada; Expert witnesses; Rules of evidence; Witness credibility
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