This online course addresses expert testimony with an open mind towards broadening the perspective of how to be a scientist in the legal arena as well as improving expert witness capabilities on the stand. Inevitably, there is a clash of professional cultures and this course is intended to provide a broader perspective of what the varying viewpoints are.
Cost: $0-225. This course takes of 15 hours to complete, on average.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
Describe the differences between an expert and lay witness.
Discuss the difference between civil and criminal cases.
Define discovery and depositions.
Describe the different cultures of law enforcement officers, scientists, and lawyers.
Describe how an expert witness should prepare for testimony.
Discuss why laying the foundation of the expert’s science is important.
Describe how to prepare for cross-examination.
Discuss how to respond to cross-examination.
Describe the ethical issues and problems experts face.
Describe unethical conduct.
Course Structure and Schedule
This is a non-credit course offered for 3.34 ILU’s. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 15 hours. The course cost is $225 per registration (with the exception of public lab employees, law enforcement, public attorneys, and federal employees – please see "Registration Information" below). A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.
Table of Contents:
Unit 1: Overview of Expert Testimony & Being an Expert Witness
Unit 2: Attorneys & Scientists - A Natural Friction
Unit 3: Preparation for Expert Witness Testimony
Unit 4: Direct Examination
Unit 5: Cross-Examination
Unit 6: Important Cases for the Expert Witness
Unit 7: Ethics
There are no prerequisites for this class. A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my answer marked wrong, when I know it is the correct answer?
Answer: All quizzes are reviewed and manually graded by the instructor which can take up to 72 hours after the quiz is submitted. Keep in mind grading is not performed on weekends, holidays, or after close of business. The updated grade will appear in the “my grades” tab in the course once it has been updated.
Mozilla Firefox (recommended) or Internet Explorer
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Macromedia Flash Player
(Free software plug-ins are available in the Getting Started area of the course.)
Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.
Samantha Neal is the Instructional Coordinator for the Forensic Science Initiative, a program that develops research, scientific resources, and professional training for forensic scientists and related professionals. Her primary responsibilities are the development and coordination of online continuing education courses in forensic science and continuing education programs. She has undergraduate degrees in both Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Chemistry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-293-5836
Robin Bowen is the Assistant Director for the Forensic Science Initiative, a program that develops scientific resources, outreach opportunities, and professional training for forensic scientists and related professionals. Her primary responsibilities include coordination of continuing education programs, management of grant funded projects, and correspondence of progress to the National Institute of Justice. Bowen is the author of Ethics and the Practice of Forensic Science. She is a former advisory member of the Outreach and Communication Interagency Working Group (IWG) under the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee (NSTC) on Forensic Science. She is also on the Editorial Advisory Board for the revised edition of Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences. Bowen is the primary developer of the Forensic Educational Alliance, an initiative to offer a variety of forensic science continuing education courses online. She has an undergraduate degree in Forensic and Investigative Sciences and a graduate degree in Secondary Science Education. Robin is the online course instructor for Ethics in Forensic Science, Fibers and Textiles for Forensic Science, and Transition to Leadership. Contact: Robin.Bowen@mail.wvu.edu, 304-293-6214
Please read below to determine your eligibility. If you have any eligibility questions please contact Forensic Science Initiative at FSI@mail.wvu.eduBEFORE you register. Registration is accepted year-round for this course.
For general FAQs for the FSI online courses please click here.
I did enjoy both classes that I signed up for - Perspectives in Expert Testimony and Principles of Death Investigation. Upon completion of the courses I emailed both Kelly Ayers and Samantha Neal to thank them for their enthusiasm, insight, and comprehensive coverage of the subject matter. In most areas of Law Enforcement a person with my years of service (30 years) is considered a "dinosaur or relic" and past the point of being interested or teachable in most if not all matters concerning the various aspects of Law Enforcement. While this belief has certainly been true with me as of late, I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to both Kelly Ayers and Samantha Neal as well as to WVU for providing courses related to my current assignment and for re-kindling my interest. I found both courses informative and challenging, and I believe that I took away valuable information that will be of use to me as I continue on the path that I started on three decades ago. While participating in both courses I realized that for the first time in 2-4 years that I will miss my job when I'm forced to retire in a little over 15 months. I again want to thank all involved for reaffirming that the career choice I made so many years ago, was the right one.