Not all expert witnesses are the same. This concept was made exceedingly clear to me by Michael J. Kennedy, Esq. who presented a paper on the subject at the California DUI Lawyers Association seminar on October 11, 2014 that I also presented at.
Courtroom-Orientated or Courtroom-Unfamiliar
The article was written over 42 years ago and struck a chord with me regarding forensic expert testimony because of my own experience as an expert witness in over 600 criminal trials. The authors, S.L. Brodsky and A. Robey, describe and analyze 2 extremes of forensic psychiatric experts; the “courtroom-orientated” expert and the “courtroom-unfamiliar” expert and developed the following Table:
While I don’t necessarily agree with all of what these authors have presented, it is essentially valid and useful to consider where you fit in. I especially like one quotation regarding the reaction of the courtroom-unfamiliar witness to the courtroom experience:
At the extreme, the courtroom-unfamiliar man often leaves with a sense of anger, will sometimes perceive himself and his views as having been on trial, and now and then will make speeches to professional groups about the unbridgeable gap between law and psychology (or psychiatry).
Since I have attended several forensic conferences in which such bitter views and presentations were made, I thought this paper might be of interest to others who have had to suffer through similar experiences!
Brodsky, S.L., and Robey, A., “On Becoming an Expert Witness: Issues of Orientation and Effectiveness”, Professional Psychology, 173-176, Spring 1972
Blood is Thicker than Breath
My presentation at the CDLA seminar mentioned above was entitled, “Forensic Aspects of Breath Alcohol Testing: A View from the Great White North” and, I’m happy to say, was well received. It is always great to meet and talk to the attending lawyers and sign a few copies of my book! Thanks to Josh Dale (Executive director and CFO), Virginia L. Landry (Secretary) and Don Drewry (President) for their assistance in making this seminar happen and for supporting those of us who were presenting.