The Conceptual Challenge of Expert Evidence
Ronald J. Allen
Northwestern University Law School
Derecho Probatorio Contemporáneo: Prueba Científica y Ténicas Forenses (Contemporary Law of Evidence: Scientific Proof and Forensic Techniques) 215 (2012), republished in English at Discusiones Filosóficas. Año 14 Nº 23, julio – diciembre, 2013.
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 12-15
The relationship between expert knowledge and the form of trials is examined. For the most part, trials are educational events in which the fact finder is expected to comprehend, process, and deliberate on the evidence, and as a result to reach rational conclusions. This process reflects the fundamental importance of factual accuracy at trial, without which rights and obligations are essentially meaningless. Expert evidence often involves a deferential rather than an educational mode of proceeding and to that extent can be in opposition to the normal aspirations of trials. How and why this developed are discussed, as are its consequences. The alternative is advanced that all evidence should be presented in an educational mode if the aspirations of trials are to be realized. If evidence cannot be presented in such a fashion, then the matter to which the evidence is pertinent plausibly cannot be litigated consistent with the normal aspirations of trials.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: evidence, expert testimony, scientific evidence, epistemology, trials, education, deference
JEL Classification: K4
Date posted: September 5, 2012 ; Last revised: April 8, 2014