Expert Testimony On The Suggestibility Of Children: Does It Fit?
Thomas D. Lyon
University of Southern California - Gould School of Law; University of Southern California - Department of Psychology
CHILDREN AND THE LAW: SOCIAL SCIENCE AND POLICY, B.L. Bottoms, M.B. Kovera, & B.D. McAuliff, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2000
There is a trend among American courts toward admitting defense expert testimony on the suggestibility of children in sexual abuse cases. This paper argues that there are good reasons to limit or exclude such testimony in a large proportion of cases. I emphasize the issue of "fit": review of appellate case law and the research on sexual abuse and suggestibility reveals that expert testimony often fails to match the research findings or does not fit the facts of the case. I discuss other arguments against admitting such testimony, and emphasize their limitations. These arguments include the objection that expert testimony regarding suggestibility invades the province of the jury, is not helpful to the jury because it is common sense, and is not scientific knowledge.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 7, 2000
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