Forensic experts must adhere to ethical standards of conduct and be aware of the proper procedures and legal constraints or motions that may affect their testimony.
A cautionary word: In the legal system, attorneys are advocates. Their duty is to put forward a set of facts and proofs that support the state's or the client's position. Occasionally, zeal for the cause may shade professional and intellectual independence. It is not improper for the advocate to give an expert a wish list stating the most desirable conclusions from the attorney's and client's viewpoint. This does not mean, however, that the expert must support that view.
Expert witnesses' integrity, reputation, and personal and professional self-esteem are at stake and require that their conclusions and opinions be supported by the available body of facts and by operative knowledge. Experts must always follow the scientific method, regardless of the path it forces them to take. "Following" the scientific method has to do with how science is conducted. "Adhering to the principles" of objective and unbiased science describes how scientific results are reported or presented.
As in any professional, technical or scientific field, experts must keep abreast of current information and maintain a high level of competence. Many experts do this by attending seminars that deal with enhancing forensic skills. Experts must also maintain professional competence at a substantive level. Before they become competent, credible and valuable witnesses, they must be able to perform as competent, capable and credible professionals. They must perform with excellence the day-to-day functions that are the cornerstones of their practices.
Additional Online Courses
- What Every First Responding Officer Should Know About DNA Evidence
- Collecting DNA Evidence at Property Crime Scenes
- DNA – A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook
- Crime Scene and DNA Basics
- Laboratory Safety Programs
- DNA Amplification
- Population Genetics and Statistics
- Non-STR DNA Markers: SNPs, Y-STRs, LCN and mtDNA
- Firearms Examiner Training
- Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers
- What Every Investigator and Evidence Technician Should Know About DNA Evidence
- Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court
- Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert
- Laboratory Orientation and Testing of Body Fluids and Tissues
- DNA Extraction and Quantitation
- STR Data Analysis and Interpretation
- Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony
- Español for Law Enforcement
- Amplified DNA Product Separation for Forensic Analysts