18: The Courts and Expert Evidence
Published:30 Jun 2016
For any person, whether expert or lay, giving evidence in a criminal trial can be an intimidating experience. Apart from an extensive knowledge of their own specialty, its procedures and techniques, the forensic scientist should be able to present their findings in a manner that is fair and comprehensible in both written and oral form to the variety of recipients of the report. Even a scant understanding and awareness of the people and procedures in the court room will help the witness to deliver a better presentation. This chapter will introduce the reader to the different offences, the courts where they are dealt with, and the people who deal with them. It will discuss the way findings should be presented in written form so as to comply with the demands of the criminal justice system, as well clarifying some aspects of court procedure, specifically in relation to forensic scientists giving expert evidence. It is entirely appropriate that this final chapter concentrates on the system used in the English courts, and the part played by the expert witness within that system. As most attendance by scientists is to the Crown Court, its place within the legal system is emphasised.