- June 21, 2020
Science and the Courts
Scienceand the Courts
Scienceis a critical aspect of the life of humans. In essence, it is highlyappreciated within the justice system. Its embrace has made truth areality along the corridors of justice, unearthing events that wereonce thought to be impossibility. It retraces the details of an eventto recreate a possible scenario as to what would have occurred. Itshakes off the dirt blinding the truth and exposes it for all toperceive. It is a fact that science has made it easy to relayjudgment based on real assumptions, pitching the perpetrator at thesite of an act. Therefore, science will always find a distinctposition in the provinces of the court.
Therole that the behavioral sciences play in a criminal investigation
Behavioralscience entails a study of the social aspect of human conduct. Itexplains the reason some events happen as they do. It offersclarification as to why people exhibit particular traits in givensituations and also, informs on what prompts a person into committingacts that are considered criminal. Behavioral science finds the causeof an act within particular environments. It gained access to thecourts at the time fingerprinting was used in criminal investigations(Douglas et al., 2013).
Behavioralscience sets the stage for any criminal investigation. It discoversthe motive for the commission of a crime. Additionally, it provides asocial and psychological context in which the trier can comprehendand assess claims about the vital fact. It is applied in a criminalinvestigation to offer insight into the details of a crime. It is ofparamount need that before an inference is made, the facts of a caseare ascertained, and the only possible means of assessment is throughthis social science.
Itis important to acknowledge that its applicability only materializesin matters of social origin, for instance, in rape cases, childsexual abuse, battery, and related scenarios (Douglas et al., 2013).
Inany criminal case, an investigation must be instigated to find outthe drive to commit an act. Behavioral science lays down possiblecircumstances surrounding the fact. To an inquiry, it allows theprobing officer to explore various avenues in finding the truth.Essentially, the officer is not limited to specific possibilities. Aninvestigation that embraces this science is believed to be detailedand analytical, providing the court with a reliable scenario ofpossible adoption. Behavioral science provides an encompassingconsideration of the circumstances of a case.
Therequirements necessary to obtain witness expert designation andacceptance of expert witness testimony
Anexpert witness is expected to collect, test, and assess evidence,forming an opinion on that evidence. Also, they play the role ofcommunicating the opinion and its foundation to the judge and jury.
Itis of significant knowledge that the witness must be competent in thematter investigated. The witnesses may be eligible for skill,training, knowledge, practical experience, education, or aconsolidation of all the mentioned factors. Essentially, the witnessmust be vast with the methodology and procedures explored anddepended upon as the center for the opinion. Again, the court mustascertain a witness as an expert. In the event of affirmation, thenthe view of the expert witness is subject to approval by the court.An expert witness should not have an interest in the conclusion ofthe trial. Moreover, an expert witness may be qualified yet notconsidered competent to contribute a reliable opinion (Fradella etal., 2012).
Itis also critical to indicate that the subject matter of an expertwitness’ evidence must be legally and factually pertinent.Significantly, there must be a profound assertion that the submittedwitness testimony will impact on the legitimacy of evidence. It isnecessary for the court to qualify an expert witness as stated in thecase of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993),where the Supreme Court held that the trial court was obligated toassess all expert testimony, without restricting the examination toscientific evidence (Fradella et al., 2012).
Courtrules concerning the acceptance of evidence and testimony
TheDaubert case has tendered significant contributions towards theformulation of these regulations. The rules are intended to affirmthe credence and competence of an expert witness, which in turnassures of the legitimacy of an opinion. It is noteworthy thatfederal rule of evidence 702 states, “if scientific, technical, orother specialized knowledge will support the trier of fact tounderstand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witnessqualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training oreducation, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion orotherwise” (Brodin, 2004). Further, Rule 703 necessitates that thefacts or information depended on in the construction of an expertopinion stand to be a testimony founded on sufficient facts or data,is the product of reliable principles and methods and the expert hasreliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case(Brodin, 2004).
Importantly,the Daubert court acknowledged that apprehensions of precariousevidence could be controlled by intense cross-examination, adducingcontrary evidence and cautious instruction on the burden of proof. Ifthese rules are not followed, the defendant lawyer would raiseobjections and in a cross-examination prove to the contrary thecredibility of an expert witness (Ebisike, 2007).
Theareas of forensic science and psychological profiling that may bechallenged in court
Notably,forensic science and psychological profiling do not always presentutmost consideration of all details to afford a valid opinion. Thecourt can challenge some issues to prove other possibilitiesespecially when the profiler is compromised in a given way.
Thecourt could expose the failings in the professional conduct andperformance of an expert witness. Also, witnesses may experienceheightened emotions, pose as vulnerable, and hold the fear to sufferlosses. Additionally, psychologists as the expert witness arerequired to maintain a high standard of veracity, exercise deferencefor the dignity and rights of other people, bear a responsibility toclients, society, and the profession, remain entrusted with theclients’ interests, and promote justice (Ebisike, 2007). The courtwill advance to determine if the requirements are not followed andwhether the witness has been compromised.
Itis critical to observe that in some cases such as of involuntarytreatment or detention, an expert witness may offer opinions thatserve to develop cause instead of counseling the court about thesubject matter. Also, a witness’ testimony may be unduly influencedby their personal views of the offender or the offenses. In essence,the court may deem it fit to challenge such evidence when they detectsuch bias (Ebisike, 2007).
Again,it is worth indicating that the use of DNA profiling in a forensicinvestigation is not always infallible. The evidence may bechallenged on factors comprising lack of quality control, inadequatelaboratory expertise in analysis, broken custody chains, and lack ofproper lab protocols.
Inconclusion, behavioral science is an important part of criminalinvestigation. It helps determine the modus operandi within aparticular subject matter.
Brodin,M. S. (2004). Behavioral science evidence in the age of Daubert:Reflections of a skeptic. U.Cin. L. Rev.,73,867.
Douglas,J., Burgess, A. W., Burgess, A. G., & Ressler, R. K. (2013).Crimeclassification manual: A standard system for investigating andclassifying violent crime.John Wiley & Sons.
Ebisike,N. (2007). The Use of Offender Profiling Evidence in Criminal Cases.
Fradella,H. F., Fogarty, A., & O`Neill, L. (2012). The Impact of Dauberton the Admissibility of Behavioral Science Testimony. PepperdineLaw Review,30(3),1.