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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Testimony by Court Experts About Other Experts' Testing

Photo of a male witness swearing oath on a bible. Caption says 'Testimony by Court Experts About Other Experts' Testing'
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The court may call its own expert to provide an independent, objective review of the testing expert's work. In this situation, the court expert does not conduct any actual evidence testing but instead provides an opinion about testing performed by experts for the state, the defense, or both, at the court's request.

Once qualified by the court, the court expert may, at the court's discretion:

  • Review relevant evidence and testing documentation.

  • Provide independent analysis.

  • Question experts for the state and the defense.

  • Form an opinion regarding whether evidence testing adhered to accepted standards and protocols and, if not, bring the matter to the court or the attorneys' attention.

  • Provide an opinion on general and specific findings and their interpretation (e.g., "It is my interpretation, based upon my careful review of the findings, that the state's conclusions are not as clear-cut as they claim. There are multiple explanations for the findings, and there is a possibility of evidence contamination, based on ...")

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