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January 25, 1985

Expert Witness Testimony

JAMA. 1985;253(4):509-510. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350280065010

To the Editor.—  In the editorial, "Expert Witness for Whom?" Dr Lundberg1 suggests "unbiased expert witnesses for the truth" rather than expert witness "for the prosecution" or "for the defense." He alludes to the inherent power of the court to appoint expert witnesses.There is an underlying assumption in the editorial that somehow, somewhere, there is an unbiased expert witness who can reveal the "truth." What seems to be overlooked is that different expert witnesses, even if completely unbiased, have a different view of "the truth." The adversary system has a way of arriving at "the truth" by allowing all parties to present testimony—subject to cross-examination—to the trier of fact, usually a jury, who then decides what is "the truth" for the purpose of resolving the dispute between the parties.Several years ago, Roscoe Pound said that the adversary system turns expert witnesses into advocates, pure and simple. Nevertheless,