Forensic science evidence and the limits of cross-examination

Edmond, Gary, Cunliffe, Emma, Martire, Kristy A. and San Roque, Mehera (2019) Forensic science evidence and the limits of cross-examination. Melbourne University Law Review, 42 (3). ISSN 0025-8938 (In Press)

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Abstract

The ability to confront witnesses through cross-examination is conventionally understood as the most powerful means of testing evidence, and one of the most important features of the adversarial trial. Popularly feted, cross-examination was immortalised in John Henry Wigmore’s (1863–1943) famous dictum that it is ‘the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth’. Through a detailed review of the cross-examination of a forensic scientist, in the first scientifically-informed challenge to latent fingerprintevidence in Australia, this article offers a more modest assessment of its value. Drawing upon mainstream scientific research and advice, and contrasting scientific knowledge with answers obtained through cross-examination of a latent fingerprint examiner, it illuminates a range of serious and apparently unrecognised limitations with our current procedural arrangements. The article explains the limits of cross-examination and the difficulties trial and appellate judges — and by extension juries — experience when engaging with forensic science evidence.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2019 09:00
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 09:50
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/40013

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