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Medical Evidence in Court

NCJ Number
Journal of the Forensic Science Society Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: (April 1980) Pages: 73-79
D J Gee
Date Published
7 pages
This British paper focuses on the various problems confronting medical witnesses in court and suggests ways these problems can be solved.
The most severe problem is the lack of formal training in techniques of giving evidence. Pathologists in training formerly received training in giving evidence at court committals procedures. The increasing tendency, however, is to accept written evidence or reports. This saves time, but has the effect of postponing court appearances by pathologists until they are in senior positions and dealing with serious cases. A more difficult problem arises in communicating knowledge to the court. Use of lay terms instead of technical terms can usually help to convey the required knowledge, but it is much more difficult to translate complex concepts or ideas to the court. Increasing medical specialization has compounded these problems. The system can be improved by the creation of a consensus of medical opinion, similar to Denmark's medicolegal councils in which one expert compiles a report and conclusions that are considered, amended, and approved by a panel of experts. Data banks and computers could supplement this method.


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