Volume 42, Issue 3 (May 1997)
The Impact of Homicide Trials on the Forensic Pathologist's Time—The Fulton County Experience
Subpoenas received for criminal trials related to homicides in Fulton County (Atlanta) Georgia were tracked in a computer database for an 18 month period in order to determine the proportion of forensic pathologist worktime required for testimony in homicide cases. The number of subpoenas received annually amounted to 64% of the average number of homicides occurring annually. Testimony was required in about 33% of cases in which a subpoena was received, and, therefore, the number of testimony appearances per year was about 21% of the average annual number of homicides. Assuming a 40 hour work week for 52 weeks per year and an average of 3 hours of time preparing for, traveling to, and testifying in court, the time required of the forensic pathologist to testify in homicide trials amounted to about 2% of a full-time-equivalent. Although the time required for testimony in homicide cases may vary among jurisdictions because of the nature of its homicides, distance and travel time to court, and other factors, the data presented here may be used to estimate the impact of homicide trial court time on forensic pathology practice.