Letter: Woodward verdict

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The Independent Online
Sir: Valerie and Martin Hewitt (letter, 11 November) raise important points in calling for a reassessment of jury trials. However, there are other factors raised by the Woodward and O J Simpson trials.

Very few jurors, and even fewer lawyers and judges, will have any scientific training above the equivalent of O-level. I have spent many hours seeking to explain medical and scientific evidence to lawyers. It can be a difficult task.

Courts frequently misunderstand technical evidence, sometimes giving it undue weight (especially in the case of DNA identification) and sometimes insufficient credence.

I do not think that an adversarial court system is an appropriate way to examine highly technical data. I understand that in Scottish law a sheriff at a fatal accident inquiry may elect to have an independent technical adviser sitting with him and advising the court. Such a system could greatly improve the quality of the legal process.

J V PARKIN

Lancaster

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