Expert Testimony on the Suggestibility of Children: Does it Fit?

CHILDREN AND THE LAW: SOCIAL SCIENCE AND POLICY, B.L. Bottoms, M.B. Kovera, & B.D. McAuliff, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2000

Posted: 7 Jan 2000

See all articles by Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Lyon, Thomas D., Expert Testimony on the Suggestibility of Children: Does it Fit?. CHILDREN AND THE LAW: SOCIAL SCIENCE AND POLICY, B.L. Bottoms, M.B. Kovera, & B.D. McAuliff, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=199356

Thomas D. Lyon (Contact Author)

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