Problems of Forensic Sciences 2019 Vol. 119 (CXIX) 241-253


Paulina DUDA
Katedra Postępowania Karnego, Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski, Lublin, Poland

There is no doubt that making case files available to expert witnesses is of great importance. Knowledge of them makes it possible to reconstruct the facts of a case as faithfully as possible and so to issue a full, clear and reliable expert report. The previous regulations allowed the transfer of the entire case file to expert witnesses, and it was they who decided what materials would be used for expert reports. However, as a result of the amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure of 19 July 2019 and changes to article 198 of that instrument, their access to files is now limited to individual documents selected by the judicial body in charge of a case. What is more, restrictions have been placed on access to previous opinions issued in a case. The justification for this was the need to speed up proceedings and to ensure that experts preparing reports do so as objectively as possible. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the changes introduced regarding experts’ access to case files. By analysing article 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before and after the reforms of 19 July 2019, and by referring to the views set out in legal doctrine and expressed in legal circles, as well as to her own experience as a criminal lawyer, the author examines the risks associated with the far-reaching restrictions on access to case files. Having set out these risks, the author answers the question of whether – taking into account the existing provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure – it was necessary to amend article 198 and whether the restrictions do in fact speed up court cases. The overall aim is to contribute to the development of a practice that, under the applicable provisions, allows expert witnesses the widest possible access to case files, which is often of key importance in preparing expert reports.

Słowa kluczowe
Expert witness reports; Case files; Criminal procedure; Expert witnesses.

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