Free Essay

Death of an Expert Witness

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Janedoe1
Words 1114
Pages 5
Death of an expert witness by P.D James
English C

Phyllis Dorothy James or more commonly referred to as P.D James was born in Oxford in 1920. James attended Cambridge High School for Girls. Her first published work titled Cover Her Face which she began writing in the mid 50s introduced the public to her most iconic character; investigator Adam Dagliesh. Dagliesh is a well-known character who is a reoccurring presence in a series of detective novels one of which I have had the pleasure of indulging in/reading, namely The Death of an expert witness.

Death of an Expert Witness
The novel was published 1977 receiving praise from an array of writers and readers. The story opens with scientists and experts in cases of violent deaths being summoned to the scene where a murder has taken place. The victim is a young woman who by the looks of it has been strangled and abandoned in a field. The storyline however does not revolve around the murder in question but is more of a subtle method to introduce the reader to the staff of the forensics laboratory before the murder which the story centres around has takes place/been committed. One is primarily introduced to the forensic pathologist of the Hoggatts Laboratory (located in East Anglia), Dr Kerrison. Kerrison is one morning rudely awoken by the insistent ringing of the phone, careful not to awaken his two young children Nell and William, he quietly leaves the house. In this passage we also become intimately acquainted with Dr. Kerrisons difficult private life as he is in the middle of a divorce and custody battle. We are also told that Kerrison believes that he has failed to attain anything in his life besides anxiety and uncertainty in a sign of blatant low assessed self-worth on the characters behalf. Thereon we are introduced to a second character; the newly appointed Director of the Forensic Science Lab, Dr. Howarth. These two characters seemingly harbouring a shared animosity and bitterness towards a certain Dr. Edwin Lorrimer, Director of the Biology Department. Howarth’s despise is mainly due to Lorrimers previous involvement with his half sister Dominica. This is explicably transparent in the third chapter of the novel where Howarth is quoted saying; “Damn Lorrimer! Everything he touches goes wrong for me. He felt a spasm of hatred so intense, so physical that it made him retch. If only Lorrimer's body were sprawled at the bottom of the clench pit.” (Chapter 3, p.28)
Another character is Angela Foley, secretary assistant to Dr. Howarth. Further into the novel her along with Stella Mawson a writer she is residing with express a wish to buy the cottage they are living in. In order to do this they require a loan as they have failed to gather enough money on their own. Angela subsequently asks her cousin the previously mentioned and abhorred Dr. Lorrimer who promptly refuses. As Lorrimer has inherited a great deal of money this should not be an issue, and while he refuses we become aware of the fact that Angela is said to inherit this at the point of his death. Deeper as we delve into the story we are presented to a scenario in which Breda Pridmore, a receptionist at the Hoggats Laboratory arriving there one day accompanied by an Inspector Blakelock one hour prior to the personnel. As they near the lab they receive a distressing phone call from Dr.Lorrimers father expressing worry over his son who failed to come home the previous night. The inspector attempts to calm the man blatantly voicing his concern for his son by stating that he may have spent the night at the office. Brenda agrees as this is not uncommon and volunteers to have a look. As she nears the office she is greeted by awful odour of rotten flesh. There lies the corpse of Dr. Lorrimer. Only then are we at last given the pleasure of meeting the noted inspector Dalgliesh. He immediately establishes that only those with access to the laboratory could have committed this heinous crime. He has thus narrowed down a handful of suspects but the question still remains, who is guilty?
The narrative voice alters frequently throughout the story, paying each respect to the perspectives of all the characters included. A recurrent one is third person point of view which shifts between the different characters. It is in this fashion that we are introduced to a multitude of characters including; Dr. Kerrison, Nell Kerrison, Maxim Howarth, Angela Foley, Adam Dalgliesh, Brenda Pridmore and John Inspector Doyle. It allows for the reader to understand each characters mindset and motives. And it allows for one to intimately become acquainted with their perspectives which the Detective does not.
Throughout the novel is written and structured in such a way to create a feeling of constant tension and mystery as you attempt to puzzle together the pieces of what has truly transpired. The purpose is to decipher each individuals gain at Dr. Lorrimers death and is meant to have the reader themselves pondering on whom of the characters might benefit most from his demise. Similar to the novels by Agatha Christie or the very talented Arthur Conan Doyle the evidence and countless of disguised hints are fed to the reader in order for them to be brought on a journey to solve the mystery.
While it is not the best of books that I have read, it certainly cannot be said to have been dull. One is quite often on edge when reading it, attempting to gather all the puzzle pieces; it was a real page turner as the critics often say. The only real objection that I have is towards the often ridicules names of her characters. They do not seem very common and unless there is a certain village or small town where all the Lorrimers and Dalglieshs reside, I strongly believe them to be made up (I can guarantee that I have at some point spelled some names wrong due to their well for lack of a better word weirdness). Still it is a book which I would gladly recommend to anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery and excitement every ones and a while.

Other famous works of hers include Devices and Desires, The Lighthouse, The Murder Room, The Private Patient and many more.

Sources include:

Death of an Expert Witness – P.D James Faber Podcast Special: An Interview with P.D James (09.09.25) - --------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Faber & Faber

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Expert Witnes

...What is the role of the expert witness in the trial and to what extent do such witnesses fulfil this role? In understanding what expert witnesses do, one has to first establish the definition of an expert witness. An expert witness can be defined as “a person who can provide information and opinion from the body of knowledge that makes up their own expertise.” An example of an expert witness would be a psychologist. As a general rule laid by Lord Mansfield in Folkes v Chadd, “the opinion of scientific men upon proven facts may be given by men of science within their own science. In this essay, the term expert witness is going to be put under the microscope, divulging into the many aspects and rules of an expert witness and the opinion they give. A In the Criminal Procedure Rule, it terms an expert witness a person who is required to give expert evidence for the purpose of criminal proceedings, including evidence that is to determine the fitness to plead or for the purpose of sentencing. For example one may call on a police officer that is experience in collision investigations may offer his expert opinion on how the accident transpired. There are also times when an expert witness is not required, where a judge or jury can form his or her own views and inferences without the help of an expert. Expert witnesses can be called to testify on a variety of issues, such as DNA analyses, engineering, architecture, handwriting, fingerprints, psychologists, pathologist, etc.......

Words: 1570 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Daubert Paper

...Daubert Paper Lisa Boetta Acct343-F1WW Tricia Bell October 27, 2013 The Dauber standard is the standard used by trial judges to determine if an expert witness’ testimony is based on scientifically backed up reasoning and if it can be applied to the facts of the case at hand. There are multiple factors to determine if the criterion has been met. They are: “(1) whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested; (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) its known or potential error rate; (4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and (5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community”. (Daubert Standard) In Daubert vs. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, suit was brought against the makers of Bendectin. It was alleged that the drug caused serious birth defects in children whose mothers had taken it while pregnant. Copious amounts of published scientific literature stated that there was not a link between the consumption of Bendectin and birth defects in humans. Eight well credentialed experts testified that Bendectin can cause side effects in animals as well as in humans, however, their testimony was deemed by the court to not meet general acceptance standards for the admission of expert testimony. Since their findings have not been published by the scientific community, they were not considered to be generally accepted (Daubert v. Merrell Dow......

Words: 1482 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Frensic Psychology

...psychology to various legal problems in his Book On the Witness Stand (Laub, C. E., Bornstein, B. H., & Maeder, E. M.). After two decades interest increase Phycology and legal issues. This subspecialty of forensic psychology consists of theories that describe, explain and predict human behavior by referencing to the law. Bartol & Bartol describes that early in a case while attorneys are preparing for a trial and gathering information psychologist can be called in to testify during a trial. Main roles of a forensic psychologist in the USA includes, acting as a consultant to law enforcement, acting as trial consultants, presenting psychology to appeal courts, doing forensic assessment and acting as an expert witness . Forensic psychologist’ major goal is to serve as an expert witness in both the criminal and civil court. They are more commonly involved at the pretrial and post-trial proceedings, but may also serve as an expert witness at trial (Bartol & Bartol).Psychologists have the necessary skills to provide a good assessment on an individual. For instance, if an individual is fit to stand trial or not. An expert witness will testify in court in a form of opinion from the evidence and information that has been gathered, within their area of expertise. A good assessment on an individual would require deep research on the case and on the history on behavior of the individual (Dillenburger, K). The opinion of an expert witness will influence the judges in the......

Words: 1648 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Psychological Autopsies the debriefing process in an investigation (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). They will help interview witnesses and can conduct the psychological autopsy (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). An officer will experience situation that could lead to issues that include the inability to cope or develop post traumatic stress disorder (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). An officer may witness the death of a child or have to shoot someone (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). The possibilities of those kinds of situations are endless (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). Now is when the psychologist conducts debriefings to help officers deal with these situations (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). During interviews it can be beneficial for a psychologist to help assist (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). Since they are an expert in their area they can play as an advantage regardless if they are actively participating or just giving advice (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). A witness has gone through a traumatic event in which they may not remember everything at the time of the interview (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). A psychologist can make it easier for the witness to participate and not feel pressured or scared to talk (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). Psychologists tend to make people feel at ease and help clear their mind during an interview (Kurke & Scrivner, 2007). A psychologist should always be the one in charge of a psychological autopsy (Loya & Selkin, 1979). Experience is needed in an autopsy in this is why a......

Words: 2194 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Evidence-Park & Waltz

...practicable, the court must conduct a jury trial so that inadmissible evidence is not suggested to the jury by any means. (e) Taking Notice of Plain Error. A court may take notice of a plain error affecting a substantial right, even if the claim of error was not properly preserved. RULE 104. PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS (a) In General. The court must decide any preliminary question about whether a witness is qualified, a privilege exists, or evidence is admissible. In so deciding, the court is not bound by evidence rules, except those on privilege. (b) Relevance That Depends on a Fact. When the relevance of evidence depends on whether a fact exists, proof must be introduced sufficient to support a finding that the fact does exist. The court may admit the proposed evidence on the condition that the proof be introduced later. (c) Conducting a Hearing So That the Jury Cannot Hear It. The court must conduct any hearing on a preliminary question so that the jury cannot hear it if: (1) the hearing involves the admissibility of a confession; (2) a defendant in a criminal case is a witness and so requests; or (3) justice so requires. (d) Cross-Examining a Defendant in a Criminal Case. By testifying on a preliminary question, a defendant in a criminal case does not become subject to cross-examination on other issues in the case. (e) Evidence Relevant to Weight and Credibility. This rule does not limit a party’s right to introduce before the jury evidence that is......

Words: 49736 - Pages: 199

Premium Essay

Business Law

...Maulid Rezki BUS 201 12/02/2013 Court Paper Assignment Part 1 What courthouse did you attend? King County Court House What was the date? November 25, 2013 What was the judge’s name? Mary Yu What type of proceeding was it? (criminal or civil) Criminal What was the subject of the case (murder, personal injury, divorce, assault, etc)? Murder What stage of proceeding did you observe (direct testimony, voir dire, opening arguments, closing arguments, motions, expert witness testimony, ect.)? Trial , Expert witness testimony, witness testimony, motions. The court visit on Monday, November 25, 2013 was the second time I stepped in to the King County Superior Court in Seattle. I went there by car with two of my classmates around twelve o’clock. As usual people were lining up before the security check in. We had to put all our bags on a conveyor belt to go to through the x-ray check, just like any other security check in. After the security check, we asked one of the security guards about the locations for the cases that we wanted to watch. We checked the schedule and decided to watch a murder case. The person who work at the information table saw us wandering around the schedule, she spotted us and know that we are student. She gave us the directions to the room that the cases would be held. She was really friendly in answering questions for the first time and giving us basic court room manner. All other cases was already started about an hour before, the...

Words: 1311 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Forensic Scientists

...ask? That is a very difficult question to answer. Generally they provide evidence in court to support the prosecution or defence in criminal and civil investigations. The evidence can be provided in the form of a written paper or the scientist might be called to testify during trials or hearings as an expert witness on evidence or laboratory techniques. There are different areas of forensic science such as chemistry (which involves crimes against property), biology (which involves crimes against people), and toxicology (which majorly involves drugs). Being a forensic scientist involves many tasks, they go to crime scenes to investigate and then plan what evidence they need to collect. Afterwards they return to compile, catalogue, and preserve evidence to help solve the case. They then do a sketch of the scene so that they can later reconstruct the crime scene to re-examine, test, and analyze the evidence. Now that the evidence has been assessed, it can be discussed between specialists and a report can be written based on their conclusions. The report is used during trials or hearings; however, the forensic scientist can also be called upon to personally testify as an expert witness. This career, which used to be an unknown field has now become a very trendy occupation thanks to the many popular investigative television series such as Bones, Castle, and Dexter. Some key forensic scientists that contributed to make this field so well-known are Mathieu Orfila and Bernard......

Words: 1354 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Evidence Outline

...on laundry list of reasons – judge as gatekeeper a) trial judge has wide discretion to use 403 power, such that app cts will generally defer, as long as decision is reasonable b) FRE 403’s laundry list – if probative value is substantially outweighed by: ← danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of evidence, or misleading jury ← considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence B. direct vs. circumstantial evidence 1. common assumption that direct evidence is more powerful – not true 2. direct evidence = testimony that describes a fact of consequence to the action, as perceived by the witness himself a) e.g., “I saw John shoot Jim” 3. circ evidence = a circumstance that together with other circumstances will prove the crime – need for an evidentiary chain (series of inferences) to get from the evidence to the conclusion a) e.g., “John told me he was going to get Jim”; “I saw John walking towards Jim’s house on the night of the murder” 4. remember: evidence doesn’t have to be sufficient to prove your case in order to be admitted – can be admitted as long as it’s a relevant brick in the wall C. Old Chief v. US (I) (1997) (p.54) 1. OC charged with many crimes, one of which was possession of firearm while a convicted felon a) prior......

Words: 30878 - Pages: 124

Premium Essay

Fraud Paper

...Submit a 3 page paper that 1) explains the difference between litigating an embezzlement case in civil court and criminal court, and 2) discuss the role of an expert witness/fraud examiner in each proceeding. There are two major factions of the United States court system: civil cases and criminal cases. Both take place in courtrooms all across the country, but there are several differences that separate the two as well as the role of fraud examiner in each proceeding. The major difference of the two in an embezzlement case is: 1) In a criminal court case, the opposing parties are the prosecutor, often the Assistant District Attorney, and the defendant, represented by a trial lawyer. In a civil court case, however, the opposing parties are the plaintiff and the defendant, both of whom are typically represented by attorneys. 2) In a criminal court case, the prosecutor must establish the guilt of the defendant, but in a civil court case, the plaintiff must only establish the liability of the defendant. In the former, the defendant is either guilty or not guilty of a crime, while in the latter, the defendant is either liable or not liable for monetary damages suffered by the plaintiff. For example, in a criminal court case, the defendant can be found guilty of money laundry his money, while in a civil court case, the defendant can be found liable for stealing someone’s car. In civil court cases, the plaintiff must only win by a preponderance of evidence, which means that the......

Words: 1711 - Pages: 7

Free Essay


...situation of the subject thereof and of the parties to it, may be shown, so that the judge may be placed in the position of those who language he is to interpret. (11) Section 14. Peculiar signification of terms. — The terms of a writing are presumed to have been used in their primary and general acceptation, but evidence is admissible to show that they have a local, technical, or otherwise peculiar signification, and were so used and understood in the particular instance, in which case the agreement must be construed accordingly. (12) Section 15. Written words control printed. — When an instrument consists partly of written words and partly of a printed form, and the two are inconsistent, the former controls the latter. (13) Section 16. Experts and interpreters to be used in explaining certain writings. — When the characters in which an instrument is written are difficult to be deciphered, or the language is not understood by the court, the evidence of persons skilled in deciphering the characters, or who understand the language, is admissible to declare the characters or the meaning of the language. (14) Section 17. Of Two constructions, which preferred. — When the terms of an agreement have been intended in a different sense by the different parties to it, that sense is to prevail against either party in which he supposed the other understood it, and when different constructions of a provision are otherwise equally proper, that is to be taken which is the most......

Words: 9436 - Pages: 38

Free Essay

Accounting in Practice

...Assignment3: Accounting in practice Radhika Chirumamilla Dr. Kuchar 08/07/2013 Determine the most important five skills that a forensic accountant needs to possess and evaluate the need for each skill. A forensic accountant assists organizations and individuals chiefly to provide management support in the form of reviews for fraud detection and litigation support, especially through expert witness testimony. In conducting an investigation, a forensic accountant applies specialized skills and technical abilities including: Understanding of law and rules of evidence—A forensic accountant is familiar with criminal and civil law and understands courtroom procedures and expectations. Understanding rules of evidence ensures that all the findings and related documentation is admissible in court. A forensic accountant possesses a basic understanding of the legal process and legal issues. Critical and analytical investigative skills—"An auditor may be a watchdog, but a forensic accountant is a bloodhound!" A forensic accountant must possess a high level of skepticism and the "tenacity of a detective" to thoroughly examine situations for red flags suggesting fraud. Understanding theories, methods, and patterns of fraud abuse—A forensic accountant thinks creatively in order to consider and understand the tactics a fraud perpetrator may use to commit and conceal fraudulent acts. A forensic accountant thinks like the individual who would manipulate accounting records or......

Words: 1616 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay


...punishable by death or penitentiary term) has been committed and that a particular suspect committed it, that person may place the suspect under arrest and then file a complaint. An officer can issue a summons instead of arrest if it appears the defendant will come to court without being arrested. He may plead "guilty", "not guilty", "not guilty by reason of insanity" or "no contest" (he does not admit guilt but admits the truth of the facts in the accusation). An arrested person may be given the opportunity to be free on bail pending trial. Two things are required for a criminal offense. First there must be a guilty act and a guilty state of mind. The us law defines 4 degrees of guilty mind: purpose, knowledge, recklessness, negligence. At least one of these states must be present when a person does a prohibited act. The most serious crimes are felonies. The capital offense is a felony for which death is a potential penalty. There are 9 degrees of felonies. The most serious is murder, but the list of felonies includes also: homicide, assault, credit card offenses, conspiracy, attempt, corrupt activity, extortion and so on. Before the trial both parties collect evidence to be presented before the jury or the judge. Evidence is almost always presented through witnesses. Eyewitnesses tell about events they saw. Witnesses may also testify about something they heard. Everyone can expect to be a witness in a trial, either as a witness for the prosecution or as a......

Words: 1375 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Statistics and the Law

...necessary in order for statistical analysis to be relevant. It is generally recognized by the courts, in the social sciences and in medical research that the significance level should be below 0.05. However, this number has not been officially recognized by the Supreme Court, so legal reasoning and subjective analysis may hold more weight than do statistics.16 17 Although the 0.05 level is commonly accepted in many fields, this value is arbitrary and is not necessarily based on scientific merit. Data Collection Bias Statisticians must be conscious of potential biases when collecting data. It is possible, however, for biases to occur without the analyst recognizing them. If discovered, bias can be used in the courtroom to discredit an expert witness’s statistical findings. 9 Ronald Deep, Probability and Statistics, London: Elsevier, 2006, pp 456-457. Ibid, pp 498-499. 11 Stiefel et al. “School Finance Court Cases and Disparate Racial Impact: The Contribution of Statistical Analysis in New York,” Education and Urban Society Vol. 37 No. 2 (2005): 156, SAGE Publications, The University of Western Ontario,, May 30, 2007. 12 Ibid, p 155. 13 Ibid, p 156-157. 14 Andrew Luna, “Faculty Salary Equity Cases: Combining statistics with the law,” The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 77 No. 2 (2006): 206, Project Muse Standard Collection, The University of Western Ontario,......

Words: 6249 - Pages: 25

Premium Essay

Police Investigation

...sometimes sealed in plastic bags. Once collected and back in the laboratory the appropriate experts will examine each piece of evidence and conduct analysis such as fingerprint identification, ballistic examination, DNA testing etc deemed necessary to identify the individual/individuals responsible for a crime while at the same time maintaining a record of all test done. Any mishaps or protocols not followed can be damaging in a successful prosecution. The defense counsel can ultimately challenge the evidence, have it suppressed and not admissible in court. Another area in investigation that brings up some issues is the interviewing of witnesses. Key issues that are normally looked for in interviews are inconsistencies, credibility and if the witness voluntarily gave information or was coerced in some way. A rule of thumb for doing interviews is to be as complete and detailed as possible. Several good steps to follow for a solid interview are: 1) Interviews should be done as close to when the event occurred. As time passes, chronological and inferential confusion increases. 2) Prepare for the interview. Make a list of topics and questions you want to cover; be prepared to take a different path of questioning if necessary. 3) Build rapport and be an effective listener. Make the witness as comfortable as possible and listen with active involvement. 4) Gather all information from the witness regarding the event and if needed a written statement as well. 5) Before you end an......

Words: 1298 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Law and Healthcare

...requires expert testimony, which normally comes from the defendant’s fellow practitioners because they know the standards of practice best. For example, a specialist may testify about the standards for general practitioners if she is knowledgeable about them. Similarly, if the issue concerns the standards for doctors of osteopathy, doctors of medicine can testify, although the school rule prohibits the imposition of their standards on the practice of others. Unless special qualifications can be established, a member of one specialty would not be allowed to testify about the standards of practice in another specialty. The third element, injury needs to prove a negligence case. In the usual case the plaintiff need only to prove that there is a strong likelihood, which negligence caused the result, and the negligence need not be the sole cause of but only a significant factor in the injury. For example, if a physician has failed to meet the standard of care, the injuries resulting from the lapse, if any, may be difficult to determine. Last element, causation, which is the cause and effect relationship an act or omission and damages alleged in a tort or personal injury. In other words, causation needed to establish negligence that requires being close, reasonable, and casual relationship between the defendant’s negligent conduct and the resulting damages suffered by the plaintiff. 2. Explain how the standard of care can be proven. Standard of care can be proven by expert......

Words: 2051 - Pages: 9