A court case in Cleveland into the death of a five-year old girl has taken a strange turn in which the defense has asked the judge to be allowed to present as an expert witness in forensic science someone who believes, among other things, that the Earth was created in just six days as the Bible says.
Prosecutors have asked a judge not to allow a doctor who claims to have scientifically proven that God created the earth in six literal days to testify in the murder trial of two women accused of fatally beating 5-year-old Ta’Naejah McCloud.
Thomas Young, a 61-year-old independent forensic pathologist and former Kansas City-area medical examiner hired by the defense, has come under fire in previous court cases for rejecting widely accepted principles of forensic science and developing his own method of examining cases that uses probability theories and is rooted in Mosaic law.
“Dr. Young’s theories and approach to forensic pathology are not generally accepted and, to the contrary, appear to have been refuted,” the motion, filed by Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Anna Faraglia on Friday, said.
Expert witnesses have greater leeway in giving testimony than ordinary witnesses and can express opinions and judgments in their area of expertise. Their testimony can have considerable weight with judges and juries who are incapable of evaluating some pieces of evidence. One has to first establish one’s credentials to be allowed to appear as an expert witness and the question is how narrow should be the basis on which that is judged. If someone has bizarre views on a topic unrelated to the case, should that be an automatic disqualifier? Is it possible to be credible in a narrow area of science while believing in crackpot ideas in other areas?
Many of us have wrong ideas about things that are outside our expertise. But a sign of a good scientist is to be aware when one is stepping outside that range and be circumspect about making any definitive assertions. That is quite different from affirmatively asserting something that is flat out wrong. I would argue that someone who believes the Earth was created is just six days (and goes further and claims to have actually proved it) has abandoned science altogether and thus has little credibility when they speak about anything scientific, even though that particular fact may have nothing to do with the case.
The judge has still not ruled on the issue.