Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 238–239 | Cite as

More on the strength of evidence in forensic pathology

  • Marijke Buiskool
  • Hubert G. T. Nijs
  • Wouter A. Karst
  • Charles E. H. BergerEmail author
Letter to the Editor

We would like to respond to the Commentary entitled “On the strength of evidence in forensic pathology,” by Pollanen [1]. He brings up the issue of the strength of evidence in forensic pathology. More specifically, he discusses the strength of evidence required to draw conclusions about the cause of death, and three issues that make this a thorny topic:

First, the legal system will apply legal standards such as “balance of probabilities” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” while it is unusual for pathologists to formulate their opinions based on a legal standard.

Second, logic would require the severity of the legal outcome to be linked to a higher medical evidential standard for an opinion. This could make the required evidential standard vary from case to case.

Third, different pathologists can seemingly vary widely in their opinion in difficult areas of pathology, based on a possibly small variation in their interpretation of the evidence and the standard they apply to reach a...


Stab Wound Legal Standard Forensic Pathologist Medical Finding Identical Opinion 
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  1. 1.
    Pollanen MS. On the strength of evidence in forensic pathology. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2016;12:95–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Evett I. The logical foundations of forensic science: towards reliable knowledge. Phil Trans R Soc. 2015;B 370:20140263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lindley DV. Making decisions. 2nd ed. London: Wiley; 1985.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Robertson B, Vignaux GA. Interpreting evidence, evaluating forensic science in the courtroom. 1st ed. Chicester: Wiley; 1995.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    ENFSI guideline for evaluative reporting in forensic science. 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI)The HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Criminal Law and CriminologyLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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