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The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Discussion of legislation relating to computer forensics.
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jamie
Site Admin
 

The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 05, 07 18:47

Interesting article in last month's Guardian (UK):

Last month saw the downfall of Gene Morrison. A conman who masqueraded as a forensic scientist and gave evidence in more than 700 police cases, some of them involving rape and drink-driving, Morrison, 48, of Hyde, Tameside, was found guilty of 22 counts of perjury at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester and given a five-year jail sentence. His claims to be a forensic scientist were bogus, and the BSc and PhD qualifications he claimed were in fact bought from a university that existed only on the internet.

But computer experts warn that just the same could happen in their field. "There are a lot of people involved in computer forensics who have no qualifications at all," says Neil Hare-Brown, managing director of QCC, a company that carries out forensic investigations for the police.

"I would say that between 5% and 10% of the people working in this area are incompetent and that has led to problems with investigations. We have been given [computer] discs by the police that have been examined by people who have said that there is no evidence on them and subsequently found considerable amounts of evidence."


Rest of article here, comments very welcome.

Jamie
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Jamie Morris
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libertate
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 10, 07 01:16

"university that existed only on the internet" is not the problem. The fact that he just paid for his degree and was not tested, and evaluated by experts, peers or both is the main problem.

I also think 10% is way underestimated. I have been in security for a long time, yet I would not walk into a court and consider myself an expert witness. Technical witness, one that does not draw any conclusions, but never an expert.  
 
  

trewmte
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 10, 07 15:48

The facts of this particular Expert's case speak for themselves.


Not defending this guy's action, but out of curiosity:

- What happened to all the other Experts on the other sides in all these cases this Expert appeared in?
- Did the other Experts all disagree with how "he" arrived at his conclusions, with the inference "he" wasn't able to do the job?
- Put another way, how was it possible "he" bluffed so many other Experts?
- Is it possible this Expert was actually able to do the job, but lacked the academic credentials and therefore went on to buy superficial credentials?
- Had "he" simply not claimed those qualifications, is there evidence his work was entirely inaccurate?

I can see some responses to these questions are that "he" bluffed his way through, but does that stack up with so many cases in which "he" advised?  
 
  

steve862
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 10, 07 17:03

Hi,

700 cases as the report suggests is a huge number. Either his involvment in the majority was very minor or perhaps this figure has been estimated or exaggerated.

You make some valid points Trewmte and I suspect some of his work was never scrutinised by anyone else and cases were either persued or dropped based on his 'initial' findings/suggestions.

Where cases progressed and other experts became involved it wouldn't be the first time one expert bluffed to a point where the other expert assumed he must know more than him and backed down. It also wouldn't be the first time if the two experts disagreed but the court accepted the evidence from one source, whether his evidence was right or wrong it convinced jury.

Steve
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Forensic Computer Examiner, London, UK 
 
  

trewmte
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 10, 07 22:54

Hi Steve

- steve862
....700 cases.....perhaps this figure has been estimated or exaggerated


I think this is the figure that got me thinking about experts on the other side in the first place.

- steve862
I suspect some of his work was never scrutinised by anyone else and cases were either persued or dropped based on his 'initial' findings/suggestions.


But it doesn't stop there. All the work carried out by the investigating officers gets thrown out. Victims fail to see justice and defendant's can get wrongly accused.

- steve862
....it wouldn't be the first time one expert bluffed to a point where the other expert assumed he must know more than him and backed down. It also wouldn't be the first time if the two experts disagreed but the court accepted the evidence from one source, whether his evidence was right or wrong it convinced jury.


You could be right, but that perhaps leaves open to interpretation the whole issue of qualificatiion to deal with and give evidence.  
 
  

Jonathan
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: Apr 10, 07 23:13

- steve862
Hi,

700 cases as the report suggests is a huge number. Either his involvment in the majority was very minor or perhaps this figure has been estimated or exaggerated.

You make some valid points Trewmte and I suspect some of his work was never scrutinised by anyone else and cases were either persued or dropped based on his 'initial' findings/suggestions.

Where cases progressed and other experts became involved it wouldn't be the first time one expert bluffed to a point where the other expert assumed he must know more than him and backed down. It also wouldn't be the first time if the two experts disagreed but the court accepted the evidence from one source, whether his evidence was right or wrong it convinced jury.

Steve


He got himself involved in this field in the late 1970s, so 700 cases over 30 years isn't so far fetched - on average that's around one case every 2 weeks.

It is interesting that his background and qualifications weren't verified over this period. Better late than never I suppose.... Rolling Eyes
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mark777
Senior Member
 

Re: The evidence mounts on the need for expert witnesses

Post Posted: May 04, 07 03:56

Please Please do not think I am having a dig here at those who work for the defence I am not.

Working in law enforcement for nearly 30 years (28.5 to be exact) i have found the following:

Expert witness for law enforcement equals in most cases the cheapest

Expert witness for the defence equals the first one that tells you what you want to hear.

Call me cynical but i will give one example;

Suspect charged with murder and remanded. Claiming diminished responsibily.

Prosecution phsyciatrist is the prison one (and in all honesty he was good)
who said not diminished responsibilty

Defence one was the third they tried but the first that agreed with diminished responsibilty.

Sometimes think that qualifications and experience etc are way down the list of requirements.

Like I said, no insults or anything intended so if I have offended anyone I apologise.
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Mark 
 

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