Much of society's ambivalence toward expert witnesses is derived from society's unrealistic hopes and fears of expert witnesses. The hope that the expert will have secret skills, which provide special access to absolute truth, imbues the expert role with unrealistic authority and certainty. This expectation of expert witnesses is not consistent with the reality of scientific expertise that allows for probable conclusions. The fear that the expert will take over the legal process and subvert justice is also exaggerated. The legal system has rules of procedure that limit the influence of the expert witness. Functioning within the boundaries of science and governed by ethical guidelines, experts are not oracles whose conclusions are not open to question, but witnesses who can provide the legal system with useful information.
J. RICHARD CICCONE (1 995) BIBLIOGRAPHY REVISED
SEE ALSO: Confidentiality; Conflict of Interest; DNA Identification; Law and Bioethics, Law and Morality; Malpractice, Medical
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