IPT Book Reviews

Title: Preparing and Presenting Expert Testimony in Child Abuse Litigation
Author: Paul Stern
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc., 1997

Sage Publications, Inc.
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
(805) 499-0721
$19.95 (p)

This 181-page book is divided into seven chapters; the sixth chapter is written by Benjamin E. Saunders from the Medical University of South Carolina. Paul Stern is a prosecutor in Snohomish County, Washington. The book briefly discusses the need for expert testimony, who experts are, how to present and prepare testimony, how to handle cross-examination, how to cross-examine the "irresponsible" expert, and mental health professionals as experts. The book clearly indicates that the test for admissibility in court is not scientific certainty but legal sufficiency.

I read this book hoping to find information that was new since my article on expert testimony appeared in this journal in 1989 (Vol. 1, #2), but was disappointed to see how little has changed. There is no discussion of the differences between civil and criminal courts, which would have been helpful. The book lists only a few court decisions, which may be of limited usefulness since state laws differ from one another.

While the book provides little new information, it is simple and clear and may be helpful for beginners. I also enjoyed the quotes reflecting the ambiguities of expert witnessing that begin each chapter. The book ends with a very short set of references and a short index.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Emeritus Professor, West Virginia University.

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