“Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody!”
Legal proceedings regularly require assistance for matters beyond the ken of the ordinary judge or juror. Expert witnesses are retained by the parties to assist in these areas, and the literature on how and why these witnesses qualify as experts is legion.
This paper examines the repercussions of advances in science, such as the National Academy of Sciences report on Forensic Sciences in 2010, on how courts (particularly criminal courts)need to exercise greater caution in the use of experts, even in ‘gold standard’ areas such as DNA. The paper explores the various existing regimes for admissibility, the role of stare decisis in legitimising science, and what psychological research tells us about how expertise is received by lawyers, judges and juries.
(Forthcoming Summer 2016, with A. Jamieson and S. Bader)
Image & Lyrics: The Beatles "Help!" 1965 Parlophone