Expert evidence is crucial to the outcome in many legal cases before the courts. The law surround the use of experts has been developing for more than 200 years. This article looks at the current law in Australia involving the use of expert opinion evidence.
The most important requirement in all criminal trials is that the onus of establishing guilt is to the standard of beyond reasonable doubt. This standard of proof stays immovably with the prosecution throughout a trial. In Kathleen Folbigg’s case an essential element that needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubt was that she intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to her children.
The prosecution said that she smothered them, but failed to prove this was the case.
Expert evidence plays a key role in the decisions of courts every day across the world. In some cases, experts provide knowledge and information integral to the outcome of the judicial decision. However, experts have not always played a role in legal decision making, and this article traces the history of expert evidence, the problems and solutions developed over the last few hundred years.