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Expert Witness Blog

Expert Witness blog: 10/03/2012

Your Expert Witness blogThere is still no end in sight to the battle between the Government and the legal profession over the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill. The fight has been mainly carried on as a rearguard action in the Lords, only to have the numerous amendments carried there overturned upon its return to the Commons.

Last week a ‘triumvirate’ of legal organisations issued a joint set of proposals that, they hope, will act as a compromise between the Bill as it stands and the aspirations of many lawyers to keep hold of at least some form of legal aid system in this country.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:41

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Expert Witness blog: 29/02/2012

witness blogOne issue that has been exercising both the legal profession and the expert witnesses that provide opinion in criminal cases has been that of Bayesian inference, or Bayesian statistics. Bayes, the 18th-century mathematician, produced a method for calculating the statistical probability of an event happening given more than one variable. It had been used in numerous trials to state the probability of a suspect being present at the scene based on the probability of other related events.

In 2010, however, a person convicted of murder took his case to the Court of Appeal to challenge shoe print evidence that had been used to convict him. The argument that had been used purported to show that a pair of Nike trainers owned by him must have made a shoe print at the scene of the murder.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:13

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Expert Witness blog: 14/02/2012

Your Expert Witness blogOver the past few days the British (well, English) press has been full of laments over the weather. It actually has snowed in most places (how unseasonal, this being February!), and -160C IS cold for this country, but the TV pictures from around Europe really should stop us from going on about it. Even Rome had snow during the rugby international, which you would have thought would have suited England, but no matter.

Spare a thought for the people of Louisiana, then, who got caught up in the disastrous events following Hurricane Katrina. Not only did they suffer the indignity of having President Bush overfly the area on his way back from holiday, and Dick Cheney insist that power crews repair an oil pipeline substation rather than local hospitals, they were given temporary accommodation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in ‘trailers’ that were contaminated with formaldehyde.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:19

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Expert Witness blog: 30/01/2012

witness blogAny expert witness who has had to badger solicitors to get their fee paid (an entertaining article in a past issue of Your Expert Witness highlighted the issue) will be aghast at recent news from the Old Bailey. There, former Fulbright Jaworski lawyer Richard Simkin and his wife, former office manager Zaki Sharif, were found guilty swindling the law firm out of £100,000, as reported by The Epilogue, the newsletter of legal recruitment site Professionals in Law.

The money, a combination of false expenses and bogus agency invoices, paid for luxury holidays in Mexico and Hong Kong, Harley Street skin treatment, silk bedding and even a £2,400 signed photo of Mohammed Ali (honest!). While the duo get to dwell on their mis-deeds at leisure (presumably bemoaning at length the injustice of being caught), the rest of us, and particularly said unpaid expert witnesses, cannot but be scandalised that the fraud was allowed to go on for so long.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:15

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Expert Witness blog: 23/01/2012

Your Expert Witness blogThe sight of a stricken ship lying on its side in shallow waters is always a tragic one. When people lose their lives the tragedy is, of course, very real. So the daily story of the sinking of the Costa Concordia, with its attendant background picture of the listing vessel, ensures the tragedy stays in our minds.

Stories emerging of the events surrounding the disaster are becoming increasingly bizarre. Experts in maritime law – a subject, co-incidentally, to be covered in some depth in the next issue of Your Expert Witness magazine – have been appearing on television explaining variously whether the ship design was inherently unstable, whether the charts were wrong and latterly whether the captain was at fault in taking the course he did.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:32

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