Expert witnesses, nonexpert witnesses, and nonwitness experts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The role and responsibilities of the expert winness is a controversial subject. This article emphasizes the legal rules (of evidence and procedure) governing the expert and the policy grounds on which they rest. As the law's policies for the use of expertise shift from stage as stage as litigation progresses, or differ between categories of legal cases (criminal vs. civil), or with a party's use of an expert (from being a nonwitness consultant to an expert witness at trial), the law expects the role of the expert to be reshaped accordingly. On some important issues, the law sends contradictory messages: What its formal rules announce is at war with its structure and practices. And these, in turn, sometimes are in tension with the demands of the expert's professional ethical codes. On other matters of importance to experts, the law is silent, because the rules were motivated by a need to control the behavior of parties and lawyers, not experts. The result of all this is to present those who would be conscientious expert witnesses with a need to resolve nearly impossible role conflicts and ethical dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-313
Number of pages23
JournalLaw and human behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Expert witnesses, nonexpert witnesses, and nonwitness experts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this