Expert witnesses in the courtroom: the impact of the role of the defendant and expert witness type on evaluations of procedural justice
Hudson, Karen Alice
People tend to cooperate with and defer future decisions to authorities when those people perceive the authorities as fair (Tyler, 2003). In the current experiment, the effects of expert witness type (adversarial, neutral court appointed, biased court appointed) and class of defendant (individual, corporation, government agency) on perceived fairness were explored. Participants were given a pre-trial questionnaire to control for the trial experience, provided with a court transcript, and then filled out a post-trial questionnaire composed of procedural justice evaluations. Neutral observers rated cases with adversarial testimony as more procedurally fair than cases with court appointed testimony, and found cases against corporations to be more procedurally fair than cases against government entities. As hypothesized, perceived fairness judgments were lowest when the plaintiff lost to more "powerful" entities and when the loss was coupled with testimony by court appointed expert witnesses. The present research continues to highlight the concern about the use of court appointed experts in the courtroom.