Witnesses: What Makes an Expert?

When an expert witness takes the stand to testify, he is a courtroom performer with an important privilege. Other witnesses are allowed to deal only with facts they have observed; the expert is often there to present his opinions and conclusions as well. At the trial of Jack Ruby, the experts had a field day.

Actually, as District Attorney Henry Wade explained afterward, the real expert witness in the Ruby trial was not a specialist but a policeman. The prosecution clinched its case by showing premeditated intent: Ruby, so the officer testified, had said: "I hope I killed the son...

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