The Reliability of Expert Evidence in Canada
Safeguarding Against Wrongful Convictions
Keywords:Expert Evidence, Wrongful Convictions, Reliability, Forensic Science, Goudge Inquiry
This paper analyzes Canada’s common law as it currently stands regarding expert evidence and key inquiries and reports on expert evidence and wrongful convictions done in Canada and on forensic science. The analysis will demonstrate how Canada’s laws and practices have not gone far enough to ensure expert evidence is reliable in order to protect innocent citizens from wrongful conviction. I propose that to truly safeguard against the admission of improper expert evidence in trials Canada must (1) heighten the standard expert evidence must meet to be considered reliable and increase a judge’s role as gatekeeper (2) foster a system of peer-reviewed research, training, accreditation, and accountability in forensic science disciplines in Canada, and (3) ensure that all legal actors (i.e., police, lawyers, and judges) receive continued training on best forensic science practices and their limits and have free access to information and education on forensic science disciplines when needed. Systemic changes in forensic science disciplines in Canada, continued education in forensic sciences for legal actors, and changes in the law of reliability of evidence are necessary to prevent improper expert evidence from continuing to contribute to wrongful convictions. This paper concludes by with a case study evaluating how the proposed systemic changes could have made a difference in a real-world case where expert evidence was flawed.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Samantha Savage
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