ISPLA News: Expert Testimony in Criminal & Juvenile Trials
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ABA Resolution 101C ADOPTED AS REVISED
Urges Judges' Consideration Presenting Expert Testimony to Jurors
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges judges and lawyers to
consider the following factors in determining the manner in which expert
testimony should be presented to a jury and in instructing the jury in its
evaluation of expert scientific testimony in criminal and delinquency
1. Whether experts can identify and explain the theoretical and
factual basis for any opinion given in their testimony and the reasoning
upon which the opinion is based.
2. Whether experts use clear and consistent terminology in
presenting their opinions.
3. Whether experts present their testimony in a manner that
accurately and fairly conveys the significance of their conclusions,
including any relevant limitations of the methodology used.
4. Whether experts explain the reliability of evidence and fairly
address problems with evidence including relevant evidence of laboratory
error, contamination, or sample mishandling.
5. Whether expert testimony of individuality or uniqueness is based
on valid scientific research.
6. Whether the court should prohibit the parties from tendering
witnesses as experts and should refrain from declaring witnesses to be
experts in the presence of the jury.
7. Whether to include in jury instructions additional specific
factors that might be especially important to a jury's ability to fairly
assess the reliability of and weight to be given expert testimony on
particular issues in the case.
The resolution is derived from a report which in part states:
"Many of the reported problems with forensic science evidence have resulted
from the failures of trial attorneys to investigate thoroughly forensic
science evidence, the misunderstandings of trial attorneys concerning the
nature of that evidence and misstatements by trial attorneys concerning the
weight to be attributed to that evidence. Until an elevation in the
knowledge base of trial attorneys is achieved, the adversarial system will
continue to falter with respect to the proper presentation of forensic
Below is a direct link to the 17-page ABA reference material which criminal
defense investigators should consider reviewing. Among other things, it
comments on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report on forensic
science, along with cases such as Daubert:
ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
Resource to Government, Media, and Investigative and Security Professionals
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