Qualification of witness

Qualificationof witness

UnitVI _ Outline

Qualificationof witness

    1. Thesis – Investigating factors that influence qualification and disqualification of witnesses

  1. Definition of witnesses

    1. Significance of witnesses

    2. Qualifications and disqualification considerations of a witnesses

  2. Relationship between the topic and the book

    1. Relevance of attorneys and witnesses in court cases

    2. Witness selection process

  3. Reliable sources for using in the research

Qualificationof witness

Witnessesare people who claim or have reliable information for determining ifa person is guilty or innocent from a given offense. A person withthe perceiving capacity and they can explain their perception toother people are qualified witnesses in a court of law. The objectiveof this essay is investing factors that influence qualification anddisqualification of witnesses. The topic is relevant to the coursebook, “Criminal Evidence”, because the subject is covered in oneof the chapters in the book.

Thechosen topic is related to the book as it focuses on considerationsthat courts and attorneys use in determining eligibility ofreliability of facts stated in a situation. Criminal prosecution isan intricate process that requires extensive planning. The chapterwill attempt to explain the main procedure that the courts andattorney use in determining that the witnesses selected and theirbest interest is ensuring that justice is served to the persons thatdeserve it. The research will investigate potential reasons that canmake a court of law disqualify or accept a witness. To enhance thevalidity and reliability of the sources chosen for the sources arebased on qualitative methodology. Besides, they are peer-reviewed.


Sapir(2007) asserts that expert witnesses give professional informationbased on skills in their respective specialization. However,qualified individuals are supposed to be free of criminal records andprovide relevant documents to prove their eligibility in the field.

Officeof student citizenship (2014) claims that individuals with hearsayinformation, character or even indirect knowledge regarding a givenincident under investigation can serve as witnesses as studentcitizenship is not tied to the regular evidence considerations.

CivilJustice Council, (2009) focuses on the duties of expert witnesses,testimony admissibility, expert qualifications, and theattorney-client privilege. The literature also examines the processof identifying and recruiting witnesses and the policies theconsiderations that attorneys or other respective individualsinvolved in witness preparation follow.

Engelhardt(1998) criticizes credibility of eyewitness’ credibility. Accordingto the author, many court jurisdictions rely on expert witnesses’accounts, but the information often is often inaccurate. Sheattributes the inaccuracy of eyewitness information on psychologicalissues, fallacies, personal stereotypes, brief exposure, stress andreduced viewing capability among other reasons. The source isreliable as the data in the book has been collected using aqualitative approach.

Sapir(2008) describes a unique method of providing evidence usingscientific analysis. Experienced individuals use forensic data thathas been analyzed in a laboratory to establish given evidence such asDNA element or chemical that could have been used in manufacturingweapons utilized in a crime scene.

Awitness is an individual with the capability to perceive, and maketheir perception to other people. Political and religious, as well asprevious crime convictions and one’s preferred outcome cannotprevent them from serving as a witness. However, the court of law candeter a person from serving as a witness when necessary.Traditionally, common law could only admit witnesses affiliated togiven religions since they were more likely to tell the truth thantheir colleagues that were not affiliated with any religion. Severalreligions condemn lying hence, common law experts believed thatfollowers of the religion could not cheat since they were afraid thatthey would suffer from breaking the premise of their religion. Modernlaw has disqualified religious belief as a potential reason forbarring a witness from testifying in a case. Nevertheless, a courtlaw may bar if it has sufficient evidence to prove that has religionbias. Similarly, a person is still eligible to testify even if he orshe has previous conviction records (Garland, 2011). For example,several criminals testify against their accomplices in law courts.Nevertheless, exceptional situations also exist when witnesses withconviction record cannot testify. For instance, a psychiatrist thathas been jailed for giving false testimony in the past cannot servean expert witness (Sapir, 2007).

Sapir(2007) claims that regulations for determining qualification ofwitnesses is valuable because judges and lawyers lack capacity forestablishing qualification of expert witnesses. The function of thesewitnesses includes gathering, evaluating and testing proof thatpeople in turn use to base their opinion regarding given situations.Traditionally, experts could only testify about issues that theyobserved or experienced, but science offers another avenue ofgathering evidence using scientific methods. For example, a forensicexpert can collect blood sample at the scene of a crime, and then useDNA test to identify the suspect. Expert witness may either givetestimonies or give consultations. The first category of witnessincludes laypersons. These individual have practical experience in aparticular field, although they may lack formal education andcertification. Second, examiners or technicians are highly trainedspecialists focusing on a given area such as a bomb composition(Sapir, 2008). Technicians use intricate gadgets to determine givenfacts such as probability of an industry catching fire. Third,practitioners are individuals that are trained in conducting a givenjob such as nurses and doctors. The information they give in courtsis admissible upon providing sufficient evidence that they haverelevant training in the respective field. Specialists make thefourth category of witnesses. The individuals are dedicated to givenwork with unique characteristics. Finally, scientists givetestimonies based on theory validities, instrumentation, and designs,as well as applied techniques in a certain field (Sapir, 2007).

Accordingto Engelhardt (1998), the honesty of witnesses forms the Americanjudicial process base. However, he expresses doubts regarding thecredibility of eyewitnesses. According to the author, someeyewitnesses may deliberately engage in perjury since they do notrequire providing evidence to prove their assertions. In manysituations, they give accounts of the issues they observed takingplace. Nevertheless, the author claims that eyewitnesses areunreliable because their testimony is objective. The information isquestionable because a witness’s observation could be inaccurate,or they might construct situations with the assistance from otherpeople. Initially, witnesses can give accurate testimony regarding aparticular situation, but the evidence provided gradually fades overtime because they are unable to reconstruct their memory. Inaccurateeyewitness testimony is dangerous because juries base theirconviction on testimonies they get from the individuals (Sapir,2008). Since police, lawyers and judges understand that eyewitnessesare vulnerable to engage in perjury after third parties assist themto construct memories, they ensure to close-examine them usingintricate questions that require high accuracy. However, lightassumptions are permissible in some situations where reconstructionof facts is essential. Lawyers determined to win their cases oftenrecruit witnesses on editing information in order to make theinformation appear credible thereby, making eyewitness information asubject to discussion and evaluation. Many studies based oninvestigating human memory’s reliability on giving eyewitnesstestimonies indicate that they are vulnerable to deterioration(Engelhardt, 1998).

CivilJustice Council (2009) is protocol guidance on the Civil ProcedureRules, section 35. The protocol proposes that experts intending togive evidence in a court of law should share the information withother professionals in order to increase its accuracy. Both people incharge of directing expert witnesses in gathering evidence, as wellas individuals collecting information for use during civilproceedings. The code asserts that expert witnesses are supposed toobserve high ethics in their duties. Besides, they should givepriority to assisting a court of law a fair verdict. This impliesthat expert witnesses should provide the court with truthfulinformation even if it does not favor the party paying for theirservice. However, the experts have the freedom for giving evaluationresults based on their assessment irrespective of the litigationpressure in a courtroom (Garland, 2011). This explains the reason theprotocol requires experts to limit their information on theirspecialization field. In case a given question is not applicable toan expert’s field of specialization, he or she should inform thecourt that certain information might require assistance of anotherexpert. In fact, the Civil Procedure Rules 35 allow expert witnessesto collaborate with professionals in other fields when gatheringevidence in order to enhance reliability of the findings.Nonetheless, experts should describe the opinions and conclusions ofother professionals that took part in information gathering process,as well as facts and opinions that individuals express during theproceedings (Civil Justice Council, 2009).

Officeof student citizenship (2014) outlines the requirements for choosingstudent witnesses. The literature uses Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (MIT) to describe witness selection in an academicinstitution. At MIT, anyone with rumors, indirect and second handinformation can all serve as witnesses. Both respondents andcomplainants come with witness to justify their assertions. Studentsserving as witnesses at MIT do not require contacting the StudentCitizenship, +but they have permission to meet with the respectiveparties they are affiliated with in order to discuss caseproceedings. There is no fixed time scheduled for the students toprovide evidence. This makes it essential for witnesses to carrytheir work and hang around the hearing room. Once a student is calledto the hearing room to testify, he or she is supposed to introducehimself, and then provide details of their information. Some of theprimary consideration that individuals make when choosing witnessesinclude choosing persons with the capability of providing evidencethat can support occurrence of given events, availability andcapability of taking the case seriously. If a witness cannot appearin the courtroom in person, he or she can testify through a videolink from a remote location. Although students are discouraged fromcoaching witnesses or giving them incentives to encourage them totestify, they should meet potential witnesses in advance. The priormeeting enables them to determine the information a witness willprovide to the panel (Office of Student citizenship, 2014).

Inconclusion, several factors determine qualifications of witnesses.Expert witnesses serve as witnesses because they have trained in thefield. On the other hand, strict protocols exist for determiningeligibility of witnesses. This helps in ensuring that witnesses donot break the established code of ethics. Furthermore, the guidelinesaccelerate the prosecution process, as witnesses understand theirroles and the qualification consideration in a given case.


Sapir,G.I. (2007). Qualifying the Expert Witness: A Practical Voir Dire.Forensic Magazine. Retrieved on December 3, 2014 fromhttp://www.chm.uri.edu/forensics/courses/Appendix%20-%20forensic%20science%20&amp%20expert%20witness/Voir%20Dire.pdf

Officeof student citizenship (2014). SelectingWitnesses.Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved on 6 December, 2014from http://studentlife.mit.edu/citizenship/complaint/filing/faq

Engelhardt,L. (1998). The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony: Commentary on atalk by George Fisher and Barbara Tversky. StanfordJournal of Legal Studies,1 (1). 25-31. Retrieved from http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/images/pdf/engelhardt.pdf

CivilJustice Council, (2009). Protocol for the Instruction of Experts togive Evidence in Civil Claims. Web, retrieved on December 12, 2014fromhttps://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/contents/form_section_images/practice_directions/pd35_pdf_eps/pd35_prot.pdf

Sapir,G. (2008). Forensicscience and the expert witness.Rhode Island University Forensic Science Partnership Program.http://www.chm.uri.edu/forensics/courses/Sapir%20-%20Forensic%20Science%20&amp%20the%20Expert%20Witness.pdf

Garland,N. M. (2011). Criminalevidence (6thed.).New York, NY: McGraw Hill.