Forensic Testimony book cover

Forensic Testimony

Science, Law and Expert Evidence

Expert witness books tend to be dry and strictly formulative in style. Most provide lists of evidence rules (in mind-numbing legalese) and tips about being clever and convincing in court. You won’t find much of that in Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Forensic Evidence.

His book focuses on the responsibilities of witnesses going into courts to speak on their forensic technical expertise and analyses. Forensic Testimony does have a broad view of legal terms and vocabulary available as a glossary, but each of the 12 chapters take on the hard subjects present in today’s cases, courtrooms, and news media. Information regarding “junk” versus “established or validated” forensic subjects. These topics are sharply discussed and cover subjects such as forensic fraud, forensic negligence, and incompetence. So expect the “good” with the “bad” as this book shows why the NAS 2009 report of “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States" has been singularly ignored by most forensic practitioner groups. This is a true failure of effect never seen in the history of the National Research Council researchers of the NAS (formed in 1916 to provide independent scientific advice for the US government). Full documentation of failures of individual experts and some less than scientifically validated forensics are compared to proper conduct, attitude and presentation of actual “scientific data” versus personal opinion. The fallacy in forensic circles that “it’s not real science but we still do good work” is thrown against cases of criminal exonerations after erroneous convictions aided by misguided forensic experts and their “court-accepted” but “not so validated” methods.

In closing, Forensic Testimony should be an eye-opener for students studying criminal justice and forensic science. The old-guard forensic experts (and their progeny) are well described as they continue to preach their self-righteous claims of 100% accuracy and service to their communities as a substitute for proper validation. Prosecution lawyers and their opponents in the Criminal Defense bar will learn about how wrongful convictions are occurring throughout the US justice system when bad forensics or overreaching forensic experts participate in courts. Judges interested in education and legal research should find the book stimulating with its content of case-based critique of expert witnesses calling themselves “scientists” but lacking a grasp of the scientific method as support.

Audience

Forensic professionals, legal practitioners, academia and students of forensic science and/or advanced law

Hardbound, 296 Pages

Published: October 2013

Imprint: Academic Press

ISBN: 978-0-12-397005-3

Reviews

  • "Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Witness Testimony by C. Michael Bowers, DDS, JD is an excellent resource for any forensic expert who is interested in or is called upon to provide testimony in a court of law. It is an invaluable guide for both newcomers and professionals alike. As a lawyer and expert witness who has testified and examined hundreds of cases, Dr. Bowers’ knowledge and insight into both arenas of the courtroom is evident.
    The text includes a thorough overview of what a prospective expert should be aware of regarding the legal system and how forensic evidence should be prepared for courtroom presentation. The chapters cover topics such as the admissibility of forensic expert evidence, character traits of expert witnesses, voir dire and direct examination of the expert, cross examination - the expert’s challenge and the lawyer’s strategies. The text also includes an insightful exploration into the science behind forensic science, ethics and forensic expert failures. (Mary Bush, DDS, Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Dentistry, University at Buffalo)

    "The book is especially relevant to someone just beginning their journey into a forensic science discipline and is a must read for a forensic expert who has never testified before. It also is a good reminder for seasoned experts, both government and privately contracted. Science in the court room is, by its nature, different from science in a laboratory. Generally, neither jurors, judges, nor lawyers are well versed in science and assisting them in such understanding can be challenging. Forensic Testimony gives insight into some of the challenges a forensic expert will face in the courtroom including whether or not their opinion will ultimately be admitted in court, the need to be prepared to have the evidence to back up their opinions, the likely stresses of cross-examination, the need to be personable and neutral, and even guidelines on how to dress for court (Chapters 3, 5-8). Overall, this book should ease the mind of the honest forensic expert and assist in their ability to become, and continue to be, an effective expert witness." (Alissa L. Bjerkhoel, J.D., Staff Attorney at the California Innocence Project, California Western School of Law.)


Contents

  • Intro: The NAS report and its meaning to the Bench and Bar, By Judge Harry Edwards
    1: History of experts in English Common Law, with Practice Advice for Beginner Experts
    2: Science and Forensic Science
    3: The Admissibility of Forensic Expert Evidence
    4: Professional Expert Forensic Practice
    5: Managing Your Forensic Case from Beginning to End: it’s All about Communication
    6: Character Traits of Expert Witnesses: The Good and the Bad
    7: Voire Dire and Direct Examination of the Expert
    8: Cross Examination: The Expert’s Challenge and the Lawyers’ Strategies
    9: Uniqueness and Individualizations in Forensic Science
    10: Forensic Failures
    11: Forensic Expert Ethics
    12: The Unparalleled Power of Expert Testimony

Advertisement

advert image