The basic rule in court is that any evidence by a witness is confining his/her testimony using facts and leave for the jury to draw conclusions and inferences that seem appropriate. The basic ruling is made based on the opinions of expert witnesses. This help the jury with independent information that is outside the knowledge and experience of the jury. The basic rules on expert testimony is considered as procedures of courts and as matters of law. Considering the technical and engineering difficulty that occurs within the proceedings lawsuits aviation, the determination of expert witness and expert testimony admissibility in various disciplines is significant. This paper therefore aim to canvas the standards for expert witness determination, the standards for expert testimony admissibility and the expert witness responsibilities within courts.Standards for Determining Expert Witness
An expert witness may be seen as one who avail knowledge and experience to the court to assist in the understanding of the problems concerning the case and thus come up with a decision that is sound and just. Determination of an expert witness involves consideration of several standards or qualities. According to Sapir (2007), one of the measures considered is competency. An expert witness should have qualifications through knowledge, practical experience, education, skill, training or all of the mentioned factors. The witness should also have knowledge of the procedures and methods applied and depended on opinion basis. The underlying knowledge includes literature review, experience founded on opinion regarding scientific certainty and art of technology. However, there is no absolute rule as to the extent of knowledge expected for the qualification of a witness in a particular field. On satisfaction of competency, the knowledge a witness has concerning the issue laid forward interferes with his weight and the integrity of the testimony (Sapir, 2007). Furthermore, the expert witness is expected to have analytical reasoning powers, mind flexibility for opinion modification and the ability to the communication of findings and opinions.
Standards for Determination of Admissibility of Expert Testimony
The standards used in determining the admissibility of expert witness are varied in the federal and court structures. However, many countries match with both the Federal Rules of procedure and evidence. The two primary standards commonly used are Frye test and Daubert test. The court on Frye explains that; it is hard to define the scientific principle when it goes beyond the boundary between experimental and demonstrable phases. The evidential force must thus be established at some position within the twilight zone. While court moves a long way to admit expert testimony concluded from a scientific principle that is well-known, the thing from which the conclusions have been made from must have been formed efficiently to have general acceptance in the field where it belongs (Cheng and Yoon 2005). Frye test has two phases for analysis:
Giving definition to the appropriate scientific community
Testimony and publications evaluations for determination of the existence of a general agreement.
Within its core, the objective of the Frye test is to make sure that there is reliability within the scientific theory from which an opinion is got by the expert (Cheng et al. 2005).
The other standard is Daubert test. According to Cheng et al. (2005), this standard involved a review of the Frye test. This came into play due to the sharp divisions among the courts on the appropriate standard for expert testimony admission and concluded that the Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE 702) succeeded the Frye test. The Daubert court came up with several factors in determining the scientific evidence admissibility, with establishments of gatekeeping function of the trial judge. One of the factors that have been retained is general acceptance in the related scientific community, but it does not form the exclusive test for admissibility determination. Another factor considered is if the method can be tested or whether it has been put under peer review and publication, and the estimated error rate. This standard is praised of its flexibility with the court stating that the scientific validity forms its overarching focus hence the consistency and evidentiary significance of the values which inspire the proposed submission (Cheng et al. 2005).
The Role and Responsibility of Expert Witness
The role of expert witnesses is based on the rules of the high court. It is mandatory for experts to give testimony that is consistent with the rules of the high court and comply with the code of ethics of expert witness. Federal courts continue to use the Daubert standard, with state courts using various tests in the admissibility of expert determination in connection to scientific and technical knowledge. Considering the US system of jurisprudence, the expert witness plays essential roles. One of the responsibility involves being truthful, expert in technical reasoning, honesty when it comes to opinion and absolute in related issues reporting. An expert witness cannot adopt an advocate role and try to be impartial in the way they argue during the course of giving evidence. An expert cannot be an advocate for any parties. The expert must confine his/her testimony to special kill or expertise matters. The expertise offered must be in a recognized field and based to matters of fact. More emphasis is put on the importance of impartiality whenever leading or preparing expert evidence in lawsuit and the relevance of the court is expected seek assistance before it give conclusions. Therefore, the importance comes when the testimony provided is within the purview claimed by the expert witness in question. An expert witness is also responsible to the client to apply appropriate care in connection with the investigation and give opinion evidence that is decisively based. This requires the undertaking of the tasks that one is good at and provides only the opinions that he is competent with. The expert is expected to be updated on the current thinking and developments so as to fulfill his duties to the maximum. The expert is also required to keep the clients identity confidential, and any information concerning the client got during the investigations unless required by law. The importance of expert testimony calls for the court proceedings to be aware of the jurisdictional standard for expert testimony admission that applies to their case.
Cheng, E. K., & Yoon, A. H. (2005). Does Frye or Daubert matter? A study of scientific admissibility standards. Virginia Law Review, 471-513.
Sapir, G. I. (2007). Qualifying the Expert witness: An effective voir dire. Forensic Magazine, 30-38.
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