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August 22, 1903


JAMA. 1903;XLI(8):500-501. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490270032008

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It has been suggested that in criminal cases in which questions of mental sanity or other medical questions are involved there should be a jury of physicians. Thus can be avoided, it is to be inferred, the scandal of conflicting "expert" testimony (so-called), which is so often used, it is claimed, to befog the jury and embarrass justice. It is assumed that a medical jury would be able to properly interpret the evidence and reach a correct conclusion where an ordinary jury of laymen would fail. This seems plausible, but will hardly bear examination. The plan would fail for the same reason that our present much-criticised usage of expert testimony fails; because it is based on the presumption that every physician is necessarily an expert in every branch of his profession. It is discrediting no one to affirm that an eminent surgeon may be almost as incompetent as a layman

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