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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 92681 Find in a Library
Title: Proposals for the Legislative Improvements in the System of Criminal Expertise and Expert Evidence in Canada
Journal: Canadian Society of Forensic Science  Volume:16  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1983)  Pages:109-116
Author(s): N M Poulantzas
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This review of Canada's present and proposed rules of evidence regarding expert testimony addresses the lack of uniform criteria for expert witnesses, provisions regarding court authority to appoint experts, and the number of experts allowed. It cites laws of other European countries for comparison.
Abstract: There are three systems of expert witness evidence: adversary expert evidence in which the defendant can designate an expert who has the same power as the expert called by the judge, evidence controlled by the expert appointed by the judge whereby the defendant's adversary expert can only supervise and criticize, and the unique expert where the judge appoints both defense and prosecution experts and they have the same authority. Germany, France, and Greece have official lists of experts for judges' use. In Canada, the Crime Detection Laboratories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provide most expert evidence in criminal court. However, Canadian experts are not appointed by the court, and there are no offical lists of experts. Instead, these witnesses are subject to the voir dire procedure which is costly and time consuming. In addition, various courts in Canada do not apply uniform criteria during these pretrial proceedings, a situation which could lower the quality and standards for expert witnesses. The proposed Uniform Evidence Act recommends selecting expert witnesses from official lists. The proposed Canadian Evidence Bill permits experts appointed by the court in both civil and criminal proceedings and increases the maximum number of witnesses which can be called from five to seven, although the adverse expert witness is limited to one. The Uniform Evidence Bill is limited to criminal proceedings and surprisingly permits the comparison of handwriting by simple witnesses and not experts.
Index Term(s): Canada; Expert witnesses; Rules of evidence
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