The Language of Forensic Experts: A Commentary on the Sally Clark Case 1999-2002

Benyounis, Huda M. A. (2019-06)


Abstract According to the judge, jury and the public in the UK, Sally Clark murdered her two sons. The prosecution forensic expert had submitted his evidence using complex medical and scientific language that misled the jury. The defence expert failed to challenge him. A few years later, Mrs. Clark was proven innocent, as there was undisclosed evidence and the language of the prosecution forensic expert misled the jury. This paper raises some issues according to the Sally Clark case. It includes some discussions about the expert’s role in the adversarial system and also compares it with the inquisitorial system. It is an approach towards understanding whether the expert should stand in the witness box or not. This paper answers whether the decision in the Sally Clark would have taken a different direction, if it was dealt under the inquisitorial justice system or other experts’ systems. Although this case has helped to re-open many other cases, it has not encouraged the English criminal justice system to make any changes with the expert system (especially in complex forensic cases). It also affected experts who now think that testifying in court is a risk. This paper presents a new approach that, if considered, can protect the justice system from any miscarriages, the experts themselves from being blamed and the public who look at both as killers.