People in “white coats” — more on experts

I’ve posted before on issues about potential bias and unreliability with forensic and other expert testimony:  here and here.  In particular, we’ve referenced the National Academy of Sciences study.

Well it’s not just in the United States.  Here is a piece from the U.K.

Frances Gibb, Why the Law Commission is worried about expert evidence, 7 April 2009.

Defendants are at risk of being wrongly convicted on the evidence of “charlatan” and “biased” expert witnesses, the Government’s law reform body warns today.

A series of highly publicised cases in which convictions have been overturned after concerns over “flawed” expert evidence “represent the tip of the iceberg”, the Law Commission of England and Wales says.

I’ve also referenced Professor x, article about documented bias in admitting prosecution experts.

As a frustrated defense counsel always losing to the government on experts, you are not alone.  The prosecution gets theirs, the defense doesn’t.  Here is a good article showing that there is a consistent practice of favoring the admission of prosecution expert testimony that is suspect, while the defense expert is treated differently.  Risinger, Michael D., Navigating Expert Reliability: Are Criminal Standards of Certainty Being Left in the Dock? 64 Albany L. Rev. 99 (2000).

I’m also of the opinion that so-called “limiting” or “curative” instructions are practically useless when “inadvertent” or “deliberate” inadmissible expert evidence is given by prosecution witnesses.  Can a member really put out of their mind the expert’s diagnosis.  As Chief Inspector Wilcox would say, “I’m not sanguine, not sanguine at all.”  More on the subject of limiting instructions later.

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