Jian Ghomeshi and the Expert WitnessBy: Robert D. Katz, R.S.W
What possible relevance could Judge William Horkins’ decision on Jian Ghomeshi have to rehabilitation professionals? Ghomeshi was in a criminal court, charged with sexual assault. Rehabilitation professionals help injured and impaired people improve their function, navigate accessibility, develop new careers, and formulate goals – on the rare occasion that they have to go to court, they appear in civil courts, as expert witnesses.
Judge Hoskin’s decision should be read by anyone who is likely to go to court, whether as a lay or expert witness, in a criminal or a civil court. It should be read thoroughly by anyone who signs a report that will be served in court. And it should become the operant principle for prospective witnesses who see themselves as advocates – hired to ensure that one side or the other receives their just due.
A witness who is caught lying, exaggerating, manipulating, or omitting material information in one area of his or her testimony will not have any of his or her evidence accepted, even if the rest may be valid, true and balanced. As Judge Hoskins explained, testifying in court “is really quite simple: tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”