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Forensic Science and Communication

I am trying to finish college to become a type of forensic scientist (not sure which one yet), but I know I might have to testify in court as an expert witness. However, I have a speech impediment and sometimes I can't speak clearly when stressed or nervous. I just want to know if I can still be a forensic scientist and have someone else testify for me. #forensics #scientist #experts

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Hassan’s Answer

I'm not a lawyer, but I'd expect that you would have to testify in person or via video if you directly handle and evaluate evidence on which cases are built.

I don't believe you could have someone else testify for you but if the impediment is severe then maybe a case could be made to use an ASL interpreter if you can communicate via sign language. Of course this all depends on the State and/or Federal rules in your jurisdiction.

Maybe explore a job that evaluates other people's forensic work for a lawyer or prosecutor. I'd expect that there is research work that doesn't require testifying in court. I'd think that some police departments would have forensic techs that do research etc. for experts that would handle the testifying in court.

I'd start with your local District/ State Attorney and Police to see who they use for forensics. Then find the person that makes hiring decisions to get their opinions. Also track down local forensic labs and do the same.

Thank you, I’ll take that into consideration when job internships open up again. Annabeth R.

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Michelle’s Answer

Based on the type of work you want to do, many time the supervisor testifies for the lab personnel. But chances are that you will have to testify to your work product. Making sure your reports are very clear and detailed also helps. You are unsure about what area to go into, well if you are able to, volunteer or intern in the various areas you are interested in. With the pandemic I understand that might not be feasible, but you can call those agencies and offices - and I would hope - someone would be able to explain what it is they do, and answer any of your questions. Public crime labs as well as private labs do have various scientists working for them. The public labs (your department of public safety or state law enforcement agency) will have personnel who have degrees in various sciences, mostly biology or chemistry (basic). So they will be able to explain how they use their degrees while performing their duties, and whether or not they testify. Chances are, most of them rarely go to trial to testify.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. I am a Crime Scene Investigator for a Sheriff's Office, but I don't work directly with some of the scientist at the crime lab here. However, I have met them and one of them used to be a CSI with our agency. Best of luck to you on your future endeavors.

Thank you, and best of luck with you and your family during this pandemic Annabeth R.

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Ramesh’s Answer

You can't really have anyone testify for you- and the CONTENT of your testimony is what matters. The prosecutor will meet with you beforehand so that you will have a clear roadmap of what will be asked of you. Forget your nervousness. If you know your craft (and you will) the jury will look past your speech impediment and listen to your scientific findings. Go for it!

Thank you, I have always been worried because growing up I was always told that I'm not speaking correctly or they can't unrest me. So I didn't want that to stop my progress of becoming a forensic scientist. Annabeth R.

PS- When I was a detective, I remember a defense attorney who had part of his tongue removed during surgery- he was VERY hard to understand, but it made people listen more closely! Do what you love Ramesh Nyberg