Forensic scientists want you to believe they are detached and objective, and simply look at the facts. The easiest way to offend such an expert is to suggest they are biased in favor of one side or the other. They like to talk about the objectivity of science - which is not influenced by external considerations. Recents research has shown the opposite - results depend on the context provided to the expert.

One of those studies was done by researchers at the University of Virginia and Sam Houston State. The researchers paid 108 forensic psychologist to review the same case file. They were asked to assign risk scores. Some were told they were working for the defense, and some were told they were working for the prosecution.

The results showed that who the psychologists thought they were working for influenced the scores they assigned. Those who thought they were working for the prosecution assigned higher scores, while those who thought they were working for the defense assigned lower scores.

The results of this study should give everyone pause for concern. I'm not familiar with risk scores, but I assume they are something used in sentencing, and I'm guessing that most of those are done by experts paid by the State. It looks like a defendant is starting off at a disadvantage in those situations.

I would love to see the specifics on this study - but I'm not curious enough to spend $50.00 to get it. If anyone actually reads the entire article I would love to hear your thoughts.

No matter what type of case it is, jurors tend to give experts hired by the State more credibility. The argument is always made that defense experts are paid for their testimony. This research shows that may be partly true - but the reverse is also true. The state's experts testimony is also influenced by who paid them.

The issue of bias in experts - especially those working for the State - is something jurors have difficulty accepting. More and more studies are showing it's a fact though. We have to find ways to educate jurors on this.

As I've said several times before, you cannot simply accept the opinions of the State's experts. You need to look at everything, and if necessary get your own expert. Our clients deserve nothing less.

Walter Reaves
Connect with me
Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
Post A Comment