Expert Witnesses: Legal Legionnaires

Expert testimony is useful to courts when it is presented by impartial, court-appointed experts rather than by legal legionnaires bought and paid for by the warring parties. That is the answer to the question posed by Browne and Keeley in their July 5, 1999 article in The Scientist.1 Although neutral expertise is antithetical to the American adversarial system of Justice, several pioneering judges have used such unbiased experts in complex trials.2 The most recent example is breast implant litig

L Deftos
Dec 5, 1999

Expert testimony is useful to courts when it is presented by impartial, court-appointed experts rather than by legal legionnaires bought and paid for by the warring parties. That is the answer to the question posed by Browne and Keeley in their July 5, 1999 article in The Scientist.1 Although neutral expertise is antithetical to the American adversarial system of Justice, several pioneering judges have used such unbiased experts in complex trials.2 The most recent example is breast implant litigation, where scientists with relevant expertise were empaneled by federal judges to review the evidence about breast implants and systemic disease and report their findings to their courts. These panels found no evidence that silicone breast implants cause systemic disease.

Such judicial procedures are reminiscent of European courts.2,3 When scientific evidence is an issue at trial and specific expertise is needed, a European court on its own motion or...

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