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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200979 Find in a Library
Title: Testifying in Court: The Health Professional on the Witness Stand (From Child Abuse and Neglect: Guidelines for Identification, Assessment, and Case Management, P 260-265, 2003, Marilyn Strachan Peterson and Michael Durfee, eds. -- See NCJ-200932)
Author(s): John McCann M.D.; Ruth M. Young J.D.
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Volcano Press, Inc
Volcano, CA 95689
Sale Source: Volcano Press, Inc
P.O. Box 270
Volcano, CA 95689
United States of America
Type: Instructional Material; Issue Overview
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter discusses the role of the health professional as expert witness in child maltreatment hearings, tips for the clinician as a courtroom witness in a child maltreatment trial, and common tactics of cross-examination.
Abstract: In child maltreatment hearings, the expert's opinion must be objective in the sense that it is based on findings and interpretations from a professional examination. The ultimate test for accuracy and impartiality is a willingness to prepare testimony that can be used unchanged for either the plaintiff or the defendant. In addition to expertise in the relevant subject, the expert is often expected to provide the court with the standards of practice applicable to the specific case. Before agreeing to serve as an expert witness, the health professional should review the following issues with the requesting attorney: the practitioner's views about the case, any biases or potential biases in the case, the nature of the special expertise required in testifying on the case, and the practitioner's expected role. Tips for the clinician as an expert witness in a child maltreatment trial address prehearing preparation, general attitude and demeanor, and responses to questions. The chapter concludes with an outline of the common tactics of cross-examination. The general advice provided in this section is that the cross-examination will attempt to focus on any aspect of the expert's testimony that may weaken the prosecution's case and plant seeds of doubt in the jurors' minds as to the defendant's guilt. Some tactics mentioned in the chapter are friendly, condescending, or belligerent demeanors; the demand for a "yes" or "no" answer to questions that need an explanation; misstating what the witness has just said; attempts to show that the expert's procedures conflict with accepted professional standards; staring at the witness with an extended pause; nonverbal disapproval; implication that the expert is just guessing about a diagnosis; and suggestions of bias and incompetence. A relevant case vignette with follow-up questions is presented. 2 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Child abuse and neglect hearings; Court procedures; Expert witnesses; Physician child abuse neglect role
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