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The PJ Tatler

Dan Miller


December 9, 2011 - 1:28 pm

On December 6th in Williams v. Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on expert witness issues. As noted at SCOTUS Blog,

Plain English Issue: Whether a court violates a criminal defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause [Sixth Amendment] by allowing an expert witness to testify about the results of DNA testing conducted by another analyst who has not appeared as a witness at the trial. (Insert added)

Leaving aside the criminal context, we probably rely excessively on “experts,” many of whom are actually inexpert and/or partial to whatever cause or ideology suits them. The principal purveyors of editorial opinion, masquerading as presenters of “news,” often present as news their own opinions and the opinions of those “experts” with whom they agree. There is also an industry of experts, anxious to sell their services to whomever will pay for them. If consistent with the views of our media mavens, their “expert” opinions are widely touted and garner unwarranted credibility.

This article at my blog explores the use of experts primarily in a non-criminal but still judicial context. The things that happen there also happen in the media and in other contexts where judicial safeguards are absent.  Those safeguards, principally the right of cross examination, are important.

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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