It is possible that the involvement of experts will be immensely valuable to both Magistrates and jurors, in that it will aid them in assessing the problems in a case, including whether a defendant or accused is guilty or not guilty. When it comes to presenting and challenging expert testimony, prosecutors will need to have the necessary knowledge and comprehension of the material in question. The goal of this article is to aid prosecutors in discovering, interpreting, and contesting this type of evidence when it is presented in court.
It is important to remember that expert testimony is only one instrument in the arsenal of evidence available for use in proving a case. There have been several recent DNA analysis incidents that show the dangers of relying too much on expert results. This shows the danger of relying too much on expert opinions when the only evidence against the accused is his DNA, which was found at each crime site. All other evidence in the case must be taken into consideration when evaluating the credibility of an expert’s testimony. In these cases, the absence of any more evidence, no matter how small, should have been fatal to the case against the accused.
Prosecutors must examine the risks of relying too much on expert testimony without also considering the importance of the other pieces of evidence in a case they are reviewing for guidance and evaluation by the police. An expert’s opinion is the most fundamental type of evidence, and it may be used to support any claim. The basic role of the expert witness is to give independent expert/technical analysis and opinion based on the information presented by those directing him, and this function helps the court in making its decision. Accordingly, the expert’s testimony should provide as much information as necessary to support his or her judgments in order to convince a court of law.
Expert testimony is admissible in court.
As long as the parties are arguing over a topic and an expert witness is needed for observation, analysis, or description, experts can be used. Expert testimony may be disregarded by the Court in some instances, such as when the matter is one for the judge to decide or when the judge can reach a determination on his or her own, based on the facts of the case (Nsiah & McCartney, 2021). To be prevented from testifying in court, an expert must have established his or her independence, as well as the court’s overriding obligation, before being allowed to do so. An expert witness may be appointed by the court if the case requires evidence in many areas of knowledge, provided that each expert’s costs are commensurate to their worth. This is typically the case in instances that are both huge and difficult. Using a single joint expert, who is jointly nominated and directed by all parties to the dispute, can be used to resolve more straightforward issues.
Duties of an expert witness
If an expert witness is engaged and paid by more than one party, their main responsibility is to the court, which takes precedence over whatever obligations they may have to those parties. People who are not scared to say what they think should be consulted. Favoritism toward the party paying for an expert’s fees and expenses must be avoided at all costs. The expert’s statements of fact and reasoning should be accurate and complete in both written and oral testimony (Morris, Goldenberg, & Boyd, 2018). To guarantee that the report is accurate, they must be honest and thorough in their observations. Expert testimony may occasionally conflict with a client’s legal obligations. The most apparent example of this is when the expert’s and client’s viewpoints on an issue diverge. Any attempt to influence the expert’s report or hide the unfavorable perspective by a customer should be met with protest and even termination.
An expert witness must be careful not to disregard evidence that might jeopardize your client’s claim. Is there any way to know for sure if the other side knows about it? Therefore, the evidence of a qualified expert is required to include all relevant information in its presentation to the jury.
Expert witnesses must also remember that when they take an assignment, they assume a duty to their client, which means that they must conduct their investigations with care and provide evidence based on their findings. In other words, a competent or certified expert can only carry out orders and provide views that fit within their field of knowledge. If someone doesn’t know anything about a subject, he should say so. Understanding the criteria of Part 35 and its supporting Practice Direction, which outlines what an expert must include in his or her report and the way it should be delivered, are additional concerns for expert witnesses.
Instructions and privilege
All material directions given to the expert witness must be included in the expert report (s). This document’s instructions are not protected by the privilege of confidentiality. An expert who has been directed by a party before filing a lawsuit and who is later appointed as an expert for litigation purposes is generally protected from disclosure by the opposing party’s attorney-client privilege from the instructions supplied before filing a lawsuit. New directions should be given to the expert in his capacity as a court-appointed expert in order to keep these instructions private.
Discussions between experts and evidence at trial
It’s not uncommon for a judge to request a pre-trial meeting of the experts in order to work out any remaining snags before the trial begins. In some cases, a telephone meeting may be preferable to a face-to-face encounter. There should be an unified statement after this meeting outlining areas of agreement and disagreement, and the reasons for those disagreements. An expert witness must first acquire court authorization before testifying in court. In most cases, permission of this nature may be acquired. Despite the fact that experts are not immune from claims for negligence or breach of duty arising out of the preparation and presentation of evidence for the purpose of court proceedings, the opposing party is not permitted to bring a claim against an expert in these circumstances.
Using an Expert Witness in a Court of Law
There should be a balance between minimizing appearances and making sure that the expert’s testimony gets utilized to the fullest degree possible. Managing cases appropriately in accordance with the aforementioned criteria and providing effective case management at the court level are both required to achieve this goal. To arrange a day and time for the prosecution expert to appear at the Pre-Trial Preparation Hearing, you should request that the court do so at the same time that your defense expert appears in court (Morris, Goldenberg, & Boyd, 2018). It’s possible that the case contains several technical aspects that the jury must understand. A two-section presentation of the expert’s evidence may be useful. For starts, by providing a vocabulary of technical terms and processes; and secondly, by applying the technical knowledge to the specifics of the problem at hand (Wilkinson, Richard, & Hockey, 2018). Assuming expert witnesses have reviewed and approved body map technology, diagrammatic and photographic illustration will likely be of great value to both the expert witness and the judge and jury throughout their deliberations. This type of evidence can be handled in the same way as indicated above when a case is first filed.
Face mapping and video evidence are two types of evidence
Face comparison and identification are forensic science methods that enable a forensic scientist to compare an unknown picture of a person’s face to an already known image of that person’s face, such as one from a custody record, to establish who they are. Until now, there has been no globally accepted approach for this new forensic science industry, and there has also been no process to check that a person is qualified for the position in this new forensic science sector. If forensic scientists are involved in the field of face identification, they should proceed with extreme caution when making any choices, and the approach they utilize should have been evaluated by a colleague before being implemented.
Prosecutors and investigators must first determine whether or not it is necessary to confer with an expert witness on this specific issue before deciding whether or not to retain one. When a witness claims to be able to recognize a well-known individual from a visual image, face mapping may not be required in cases when the image is insufficient for augmentation purposes (Lakhani, 2021). Using specialized equipment and software, it is feasible to construct an image that may be used by a judge or jury in their deliberations by performing boosting techniques to it and then displaying the result. If the party attempting to use the improvement technique as proof is successful in demonstrating how the strategy genuinely works, they will have met their goal. One’s competence must be demonstrated by submitting both the original image and its modified version, as well as a description of the process that can be replicated by another person with sufficient ability.
Utilizing the services of a face mapping professional may be necessary if the image is so complicated that it cannot be evaluated by a Bench or jury on their own. The English Court of Appeal, in R v Atkins and Atkins  EWCA Crim. 1876, spelled out the legal issue in great detail (Camuffo et al., 2020). An expert could use a verbal scale to explain the significance of his or her findings, with the scale ranging from “limited support” to “extreme support” as the starting point. As long as there isn’t a population-wide statistical database that documents the frequency of the features being compared, he shouldn’t be able to draw any conclusions about the likelihood of specific facial characteristics recurring. No matter that expert testimony in these circumstances is a subjective expression of opinion, the judge or jury is ultimately responsible for judging whether the photos are the same or different.
However, even if this type of evidence has been utilized in the past, prosecutors will be mindful of their responsibility to ensure that a case has a reasonable likelihood of success before taking it to trial (Rv Hookway  Crim. L. R. 750). When comparing other physical qualities or things (such as automobile number plates, height estimations, colors, and pieces of clothing) in numerous images with the objective of expressing a judgment on any similarities, prosecutors are more cautious about introducing expert evidence.
Depending on the field of expertise, there are other areas of competence that can be demonstrated and/or sought in addition to personal, professional, and academic qualifications. These areas of competence include, but are not limited to: Organizations, rather than individuals, are commonly granted affiliation with such organizations, as is the case with the Forensic Science Regulator’s accreditation requirements in various branches of forensic science.
Experts are obliged to indicate if they do not have accreditation or other commitment to specified criteria where such a commitment may be expected, and if such a commitment is available and anticipated, under Criminal Practice Rule 19.2(3)(d) and Criminal Practice Direction 19A.7(h). According to CrimPR 19.3, expert evidence must include any material that may reasonably be expected to weaken the expert’s dependability or detract from the expert’s credibility or impartiality (3). The following citations: Rule 19 of the Crime Prevention Code and Direction V of the Criminal Procedure Code – evidence from 2015.
Evidence may be excluded from consideration if a court judges that the lack of certification (for example, in line with ISO 17025: requirements for forensic service providers who perform laboratory operations) makes the evidence untrustworthy. There is, however, one exception to this rule, which will be explained more below. It is possible that the absence of certification will have an influence on the amount of weight that should be accorded to such evidence if such evidence is authorized. Both the admission of evidence and the judgment of whether or not a witness qualifies as an expert witness are decisions that must be made by the court.
There is an exception to this rule when it comes to DNA and fingerprint evidence in criminal prosecutions. According to the government, Statutory Instrument 1276 of 2018 entered into effect on March 25, 2019. It has been mandated by the legislation that law enforcement agencies in England and Wales must use a forensic provider for any laboratory activity that results in the collection of DNA or dactylographic data after March 25, 2019 (fingerprints). In the United Kingdom, as of March 25, 2019, not all police departments have been authorized to use fingerprint evidence, despite the fact that DNA evidence is completely accepted in England and Wales. Except for Threshold Test charging determinations, the use of fingerprint evidence collected from an unaccredited supplier is banned for prosecution or evaluation of a case. Laboratory testing performed on or after March 25, 2019, should not be used as proof. Using unaccredited fingerprint evidence is permitted, however the Full Code Test can only be used if it is received from an accredited supplier (and service of the case).
The Forensic Science Regulator
Forensic science practitioners are expected to adhere to the ideas and ideals that are represented by the discipline, which are outlined in the Forensic Science Regulator’s Code of Conduct, which is applicable to all practitioners of forensic science, regardless of whether they are working for the prosecution or defense. Because of a joint effort with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the Codes specify needed validation criteria for scientific methodologies and the accreditation of quality management standards for forensic science units (as opposed to individual forensic scientists) (UKAS). As a non-governmental organization, the FSR is devoted to the advancement of social justice in the world. As far as forensic science units are concerned, the FSR gives suggestions on how they might enhance their compliance with the Codes. It also conducts investigations into allegations of violation with the Codes. If we are talking about the criminal justice system, forensic science is extremely essential, and the Regulator’s primary concern is in making sure that it is reliable.
If a forensic activity is included in Table 1 of Preface to the Codes of Conduct, it should be done so in line with those standards regardless of whether the provider is a government, law enforcement or private sector entity and whether or not they are working for the defense or the prosecution (Matthiesen, Wickert, & Lehrer, 2019). Furthermore, Table 1 of the Preface offers a description of the independent assurance process that has been put in place to verify that the criteria have been satisfied as of the dates stated in that table, which date back to the very start of time. On the Forensic Science Regulator’s website, you’ll also get information and advice on many other types of forensic challenges and specialties (DeFond, Lennox, & Zhang, 2018). Forensic scientists aren’t the only ones who can profit from the Forensic Science Regulator’s instruction on expert reports’ substance; all experts, not only those in the field of forensic science, may learn from the Regulator’s advice on experts’ legal obligations.
DeFond, M. L., Lennox, C. S., & Zhang, J. (2018). The primacy of fair presentation: Evidence from PCAOB standards, federal legislation, and the courts. Accounting Horizons, 32(3), 91-100.
Nsiah Amoako, E., & McCartney, C. (2021). The UK forensic science regulator: Fit for purpose? Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Forensic Science, 3(6), e1415.
Camuffo, A., Cordova, A., Gambardella, A., & Spina, C. (2020). A scientific approach to entrepreneurial decision making: Evidence from a randomized control trial. Management Science, 66(2), 564-586.
Matthiesen, B. W., Wickert, G. L., & Lehrer, W. L. (2019). Admissibility of Expert Testimony in All 50 States.
Wilkinson, D., Richard, D., & Hockey, D. (2018). Expert Fingerprint Testimony Post-PCAST-A Canadian Case Study. Journal of Forensic Identification, 68(3).
Lakhani, T. (2021). Your duties as a professional witness. BDJ In Practice, 34(3), 36-37.
Morris, K. L., Goldenberg, J., & Boyd, P. (2018). Women as animals, women as objects: Evidence for two forms of objectification. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(9), 1302-1314.