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Chapter 3 : The Arena

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The Arena, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

A fundamental difference exists between science and the law. In science a hypothesis is proposed and then experiments are performed followed by statistical analyses to test the theory before coming to a conclusion. The legal process is not a search for the truth; it is an effort to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused or to end civil disputes with finality. The legal process is adversarial; it seeks to determine whether the defendant broke the law. Criminal proceedings are based on violation of statutory law. Each party may call witnesses to support his position. Witnesses may testify under oath as to what they observed (eyewitness) or the high moral character of the defendant (character witness), or they may provide special knowledge of the subject of the case (expert witness). Procedures differ significantly between federal and state courts. There are two types of claims that can be presented: law claims and equity claims. In civil law, the plaintiff sues the party he believes to have wronged him. The laws cited here are common law (case or bench law) and are based on judicial decisions that were handed down in similar cases. Thus, most legal research requires locating such decisions and convincing the court that they also apply to the present case. In certain instances, the same offense may be tried in separate courts as criminal and civil cases.

Citation: Ellner P. 2006. The Arena, p 11-14. In The Biomedical Scientist as Expert Witness. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816520.ch3

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