|Title of host publication
|Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice
|Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd
|Published - 2014
Expert witnesses make observations or draw inferences that lay or judicial fact finders would not be able to make for themselves. It is, nevertheless, the jury or judge and not the expert that is the ultimate fact finder. It is therefore central to the role of expert witnesses, and to their ethical obligations, that they give a clear account of their conclusions and reasoning that enables the fact finder to reach an informed and independent judgment as to how far expert evidence can be relied upon. In adversarial systems of trial, great reliance is placed upon cross-examination and the ability to call opposing experts to ensure that experts are held accountable for their methods and that fact finders are not misled. In practice, however, these methods have serious shortcomings and need to be combined with other forms of accountability such as oversight by professional bodies.