COMMENTARY: "Are cops still credible as experts?" by Chris Semones, published by the Expert Witness Network Blog on October 7, 2016.
GIST: "The CrimeReport recently reported about a forthcoming article in the Harvard Law Review that questions whether the use of police officers as “experts” on the witness stand is helpful to juries and judges, or an attempt to “expand police authority in multiple areas of the law.” I must admit I’m experiencing a high degree of police abuse fatigue right now. I took one look at the report and assumed this was another attempt to pile onto the cops. …but then I skipped directly to the actual text of the paper. I’m not sure that I agree with everything written, but the author brings up an interesting subject. Who appointed cops anyway? In this ever expanding Daubert world, where we eschew junk science for facts and data, scientific methodologies and scientific methods, how do police experts fit into this model? Fifty years after the Supreme Court declared that courts should give due weight to inferences drawn by policemen “in light of [their] experience,” we’re living in a different era. Back then cops were “eyeballing” shell casings and passing on their associations with guns involved in crimes. This is a much different world. Nobody thinks that’s such a good idea anymore. However, we rely on police to testify as experts regarding criminal habits and behaviors. Police are considered de facto experts on crimes ranging from gambling to prostitution to drugs. There’s no don’t doubt that they know a great deal about criminal activity. But, so did I as a young kid living at the doorstep to a horse race track. I knew the illegal gambling business to the minute detail. Much better than any police officer. No one made any effort to hide what they did from me. Did that make me an expert witness?.........Clear conflict of interest? The author also argues that there is something wrong with allowing police to be expert analysts of the incriminating facts and crucial fact witnesses in the same case. This has always troubled me. If there’s an area of suspect police behavior, it’s on the investigation side. Whether or not in any way racially motivated is unclear. What’s statistically undeniable is that we have entirely too many cases of innocent people being incarcerated after being railroaded. Allowing investigators to testify as experts and fact witnesses in the same case only makes this easier. Calling one additional witness that has some level of independence doesn’t seem like such a huge burden."
The entire commentary can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/