Real forensic experts should pay more attention to the dangers posed by ‘ad hoc experts’

Fraser, H. 2017. Real forensic experts should pay more attention to the dangers posed by ‘ad hoc experts’Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences. http://doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2017.1340523

INTRODUCTION Recent years have seen a great deal of attention given to the reliability of expert evidence admitted in criminal trials. However, almost no attention has been given to the reliability of evidence provided by so-called ‘ad hoc experts’. Indeed, many forensic scientists seem unaware that such a category of witness even exists, much less of the substantial threats they pose to the fairness of our criminal justice system. ‘Ad hoc experts’ are used for a number of evidence types1. Here, we concentrate on one type that appears in Australian courts on a weekly basis: interpretation of indistinct covert recordings. The aim is to draw the attention of AJFS readers to serious problems in the handling of this much-used form of evidence, in the hope that the AAFS might develop a position on the issues and support calls for reform of practice.

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