An in-depth look at the function of scientific expert witnesses in the American legal system.
Zedeck, who holds a doctorate in pharmacology, has had a lengthy career as researcher at a variety of elite institutions, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He has also testified in 191 trials: Some were lurid criminal trials involving murder, drugs and rape, while others were civil cases revolving around medical malpractice or personal injury. His impressive experience in a number of areas of the legal system ultimately provides the reader with a nuanced understanding of the role an expert witness plays. This book, however, isn’t intended for lay audiences seeking an episode of Law and Order in book form. Although Zedeck offers a few personal examples from his career, in addition to several legal citations and examples of watershed cases that display notable moments for expert witnesses, there are actually fewer anecdotes than one might expect in a text of this type. Furthermore, some lengthy scientific descriptions of complex biological procedures—like polymerase chain reaction analysis, for example, which is used in DNA testing—are clearly presented, but also highly specific and geared toward someone with more than a passing interest in the field. Nonetheless, the investigation will be worthwhile for readers interested in a deeper understanding of the types of science frequently used in courts. Zedeck also indulges in a somewhat lengthy, philosophical exploration of his theories on the meaning and purpose of law and justice.
An expert’s look at the role of science in the court of law.