Expert Witness and the Courts Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

legal issues faced by expert witnesses and the impact the Frye test has on scientific evidence proffered at trial. This essay also covers the decision that was reached by the courts concerning the fate of expert witness and expert testimony and some of the legal issue that affects the case.

Generally, every case which involves technical or scientific issues, or professional standards, will always need expert witness as well as expert testimony. There is non-uniformity in terms of the rules that evolved and the required standards concerning expert testimony, because they vary based on the jurisdiction. A number of times juries have been asked to provide a decision between the conflicting testimonies that have been provided by two or more expert witnesses, with the court either failing to give guidance or give little. Just as pointed out more than a century ago by Judge Learned Hand, "how can the jury judge between two statements each founded upon an experience confessedly foreign in kind to their own? It is just because juries are incompetent for such task that the expert is necessary at all." An ever-growing debate existed in the last half of the twentieth century regarding the standards that has to be applied to expert testimony as well as the safeguards that has to be applied in preventing abuse.

From the start, it is important to recognize the fact that there are three general areas of expert evidence. The first is on pure opinion expert evidence, the second is on scientific expert evidence, and the third is on non-scientific expert evidence, (Gordon J. Beggs, 1995). The governing rule of the admission may vary in each of them, both in terms of the standard for reviewing decisions of the trial court and the standards for admission. In every jurisdiction there a different formulated tests for admission of each type of expert evidence, and it is important to be careful when identifying exactly what rules is applied in each jurisdiction.

In several occasions the courts stay away from the admissibility issue indicating that, "it goes to the weight, not the admissibility," going a head and letting everything in. However, recently the trend has been that the court scrutinizes expert evidence carefully as was appropriately put across by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in "In re Air Crash Disaster at New Orleans, Louisiana."

Policy question which are basic in affecting the very nature of trial lie behind decisions to receive expert testimony. Using the Federal Rules of Evidence, experts are required to explain the evidence and at the same time source of evidence themselves. " (W) e recognizes the temptation (on the part of the trial judge) to answer objections to receipt of expert testimony with the shorthand remark that the jury will give it "the weight it deserve".... Trial judges must be sensitive to the qualifications of persons claiming to be expert…."

It continues to sum up by acknowledging adhering to the deferential standard for review of decisions in regard to the admission of experts' testimony. Nonetheless, they caution that the standard has left the appellate judges with a considerable task. They will use a sharp eye to turn to the task, especially toward instances, which they hope few, as evident from the record that the decision to receive expert testimony was merely tossed off to the jury under a philosophy of "let it all in." The message which was sent to able trial was that they should identify that it was time to take hold of expert testimony in federal trials. Similar warning is equally applicable to…

Sources Used in Document:


Gordon J. Beggs (1995) Evidentiary Standard For Reliability Of Novel Expert Proof. Retrieved June 29, 2014.

Jack B. Weinstein, (1986) Improving Expert Testimony, 20 U. Rich. L. Rev. 473, 482 (1986)

Paul C. Giannelli, (1980) The Admissibility of Novel Scientific Evidence: Frye v. United States, a Half Century Later, 80 Colum. L. Rev. 1197, 1232.

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