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What if the suspect wanted to be his own Defence Expert?  

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Chris_Ed
(@chris_ed)
Active Member

Morning!

We were having a discussion about Defence Experts in the office this morning, and the question came up; what if the suspect wanted to be his own Defence Expert? Is that legal? Would you even be allowed to release the digital evidence to him?

Assume, for the purposes of the discussion, that the case involves indecent images - and although I'm based in the UK, I would be interested in views/experiences from all countries!

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Posted : 15/07/2011 1:15 pm
Rich2005
(@rich2005)
Active Member

Yes it is. Happened in my last case (after he got rid of his own defence expert for not saying what he wanted to hear). And yes this also involved indecent images. No material wasn't released to him, but he was given supervised access to it.

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Posted : 15/07/2011 2:14 pm
pragmatopian
(@pragmatopian)
Active Member

It sounds like a daft move on his part, and I'd assume his counsel would strongly recommend against it, but if he could establish that he was indeed an 'expert' on the relevant matters then I'm not aware of any reason in English law why he couldn't act as one in his own defence.

I expect issues about his credibility as an expert would be at the forefront of the mind(s) of the tribunal of fact.

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Posted : 15/07/2011 7:23 pm
4n6art
(@4n6art)
Active Member
Sherryka
(@sherryka)
New Member

It would be a phenomenally stupid idea, but most defendants wouldn't be in the position they are in if they exercised good judgment.

I am both a lawyer and a forensic analyst. This is from the perspective of the US legal system. Consider that once you put someone on the stand it opens the door to all kinds of testimony. A defendant does not have to testify, but if they do they can be asked about issues pertaining to credibility that otherwise would not be admissible. Also, anything the defendant says can be used as an admission.

Even in an ediscovery context. Companies sometimes use a consultant rather than an internal IT person to testify about the internal systems. One reason for that is that if you put the IT person on the stand they can be asked about the facts of the case.

There are few things one can say categorically yes or no to in law, but NEVER put the defendant on the stand as an expert in his or her own case - it may be permissible but it is stupid.

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Posted : 04/08/2011 11:11 pm
mykulh
(@mykulh)
New Member

I think Chris originally meant, what if someone was acting as their own expert and requested a copy of the images files with indecent images on them.

How would it pan out if he was found guilty and we had supplied him with all his indecent material which could potentially be copied and distributed in the months before trial and then after the trial how would we go about making sure everything was destroyed?

Would he be within his rights to make copies whilst the investigation was proceeding?

Would limiting access due to the potential questionable character, after all he is charged with a serious offence, be seen as him being treated unfairly?

Would allowing access to, but not copies of, the material be enough for us to be fair?

All the defence experts we deal with sign a MoU which they take seriously but would a suspect be bound by such restrictions?

Image the worse case scenario what if the suspect have live abuse image of a family member and these were posted in the Internet/Peer to Peer after the police had released the image files to the suspect?

Apart from that being an incredibly stupid thing to do what sort of blame, if any, could be laid at the police?

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Posted : 05/08/2011 3:19 am
kovar
(@kovar)
Senior Member

Greetings,

There is a prisoner in Washington State who is serving as his own lawyer on a CP case and has access to the images. More detail here

http//www.truecrimereport.com/2011/07/weldon_gilbert_through_legal_t.php

_David

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Posted : 05/08/2011 3:48 am
swann
(@swann)
New Member

Greetings,

There is a prisoner in Washington State who is serving as his own lawyer on a CP case and has access to the images. More detail here

http//www.truecrimereport.com/2011/07/weldon_gilbert_through_legal_t.php

_David

Very interesting.

At least he isn't alone watching the videos. NewsDog's Comment

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Posted : 05/08/2011 4:10 am
Rich2005
(@rich2005)
Active Member

Well, based on my case, I'm pretty certain the Judge would not have allowed it (unsupervised access to the material). This is obviously reading into the tone and words of what was said during the various discussions in the court, but it was definitely borne in mind the scenario you're talking about mykulhm, hence the supervised access.
I doubt they would ever be allowed unsupervised access/custody of it. I think for any scenarios like this, the best they'd get is similar to my case (ie access at a police station with supervising officer and technical party).
Edit (this is in the UK obviously - just to be clear)

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Posted : 05/08/2011 3:47 pm
mykulh
(@mykulh)
New Member

That is what I would like to think would happen, access to the image files at the Digital Forensic Unit of your choice and then you can work through whatever was needed to build you case.
I would also like to think that we would be given an opportunity to represent the force and countering any claims that unsupervised access was needed.
Good to see that others think the same way.

Mike H.

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Posted : 05/08/2011 6:12 pm
lucpel
(@lucpel)
Member

Very interesting.
I
I believe the suspect can be his own defendant in Civil Law areas, but I haven't seen it happening in Criminal Law. Also if the suspect is already in prison, that would be non sense.

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Posted : 05/08/2011 10:11 pm
John_Smith
(@john_smith)
New Member

Shouldn't be any different than any other evidence, a viewing can be scheduled with the defense that is supervised. I certainly wouldnt release any potential contraband content without guidance from court order.

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Posted : 06/08/2011 2:23 am
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