Down by Law: Police Officers as Gang Sociology Experts
Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 52, Issue 4, 2016, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2015 Last revised: 6 Oct 2020
Date Written: 2015
Are police officers experts in sociology? In California gang trials, they are. Their opinion testimony, as experts in gang sociology, is the only context in California criminal trials in which sociological expert testimony is frequently admitted into evidence. This comment analyzes the commonplace admission of police officer expert testimony in criminal gang trials, and finds several violations of the California Evidence Code. It argues that police officers are not qualified to offer sociological opinions, their methods are unreliable, and their testimony serves as a vehicle to place prejudicial and otherwise inadmissible evidence before the jury.
Keywords: California criminal law, California criminal procedure, California evidence, gang trials, expert testimony, police officer testimony, sociological expert testimony
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