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  • 02/17/2011 10:36 AM
    Reply # 523886 on 522562
    Peter Barnett
    Michael C. McMahon wrote:

    California Evidence Code section 801 governs the admissibility of expert opinion in California courts.  It is the same for civil, criminal, and special proceedings.  The code treats forensic science experts exactly the same as any other expert and has never been amended in any respect.  I suspect this true of most other jurisdictions.  Any Code of Professional Conduct should acknowlege that these evidence laws set the bar very low for qualifying a person to testify to an expert opinion and that it is the express purpose of the CPC to promote a significantly higher standard for forensic experts, above and beyond what is generally required by law.  An uncertified forensic expert may testify, but his or her lack of certification and violation of the CPC should be a fair topic for impeachment on cross-examination. The CPC could state that the forensic science community encourages the impeachment of uncertified experts as fair and significant commentary on the weight to be afforded an opinion from an uncertified witness.

    Anything more would require legislative amendments which are unlikely and probably innapropriate.

    Michael C. McMahon

    Stare Bar Certified Specilaist in Criminal and Appellate Law. (SBN #71909)

     

                  

    I don't understand the comment "evidence laws set the bar very low for qualifying a person to testify to an expert opinion and that it is the express purpose of the CPC to promote a significantly higher standard for forensic experts, above and beyond what is generally required by law."

    It is not the expressed or unexpressed purpose of the CPC to set the bar at any point for allowing people to give expert opinions in courts.  That is, and probably for the forseeable future will remain, the province of the courts.  The CPC purpose is to provide guidelines for the conduct of forensic scientists.  Adherence to these guidelines, or deviatin from these, may affect the forensic scientist's certification and that may have some bearing on the qualifications a court will consider, or a jury will consider, in their respective roles in the litigation process.  Adherence, or deviation, from the CPC may also affect the forensic scientist's employment status.  But those decisions are made by the courts, juries, and employers and are not imposed by the CPC.
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