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Adversarial Allegiance

Courts often rely on expert witnesses to better understand complex scientific or clinical issues that may be unfamiliar to judges, attorneys, or layperson jurors. Sometimes, courts appoint these experts directly, but more often, the adversarial parties select and retain the experts. In criminal trials, the prosecution or defense might select an expert to answer a question about scientific evidence, including mental health evidence on issues such as trial competence, sanity at the time of the offense, or risk of future violence. The opportunity for opposing sides to select experts raises obvious questions: Can experts who are retained by one side in adversarial legal proceedings offer the court genuinely objective findings and expert opinions? Or are these experts inevitably biased by the adversarial arrangements in which ...

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