(Received 8 February 1973; accepted 3 July 1973)
Published Online: January
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The public is easily enamored with beliefs in the magic of science and the finality of expert testimony of all kinds. Upon being exposed to newspaper articles, comic strips, and television presentations concerning the forensic use of radar, lie detection, chemistry, graphology, microscopy, handwriting identification, etc (all of questionable scientific value and all presented with the same rhetorical conviction), the average person tends to place them on the same plane of scientific acceptance and reliability and is apparently unable or unwilling to differentiate between these disciplines. As a result of this unfortunate situation, when expert testimony is presented the average juror expects definite responses to all questions asked of the witness. When the normal pretrial preparations have been made (actually little or none in criminal cases), the direct testimony of the witness will tend to enhance this belief on the part of jurors because, by the nature of the questions asked, all answers are geared to being definite.
Document examiner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tallahassee, Fla.
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