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March 7, 1977

Expert Medical Testimony

JAMA. 1977;237(10):960. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270370032011

To the Editor.—  I am concerned and dismayed by Dr Charles Aring's position on expert medical testimony in court (234:569, 1976). There are many who will agree with his boycotting the legal system unless he can appear on his own terms as a friend of the court. There are also those who disagree.I understand Dr Aring to say that he is willing to participate in the legal system if he can play by medical rules. As I have detailed in these pages (221:1387, 1972), each of our great social systems—law, medicine, education, religion, industry—is a somewhat self-contained system with a particular social function to carry out. Each develops its own methodology, language, ethics, and standards best suited to its discharging its social responsibilities. The medical visitor to the legal system is just that—a visitor—and he cannot in good conscience demand that the law suddenly take on the trappings of