Report feedback

The purpose of the Feedback is to ensure that Ad Hoc experts who rarely report in criminal law cases and whose expertise is basically not forensic are able to prepare useful reports with a logical consistency and well-substantiated conclusions. A secondary aim is to avoid unnecessary use of professional jargon or legal pitfalls.

The Feedback does not pertain to the scientific contents of the Ad Hoc report but involves a limited general check. After all, Ad Hoc experts are appointed based on their expertise of a specific topic.

The Feedback Giver

Due to the specific scientific expertise required for the report, the Feedback Giver is usually somebody who can explicitly not be designated as an expert in the investigation. For the purposes of the Feedback, the Feedback Giver must have an excellent professional reputation. The Feedback Giver must have broad interests both within and outside their area of expertise, keep up with developments within their area of expertise and contribute to its further development. The Feedback Giver should preferably be active as a court expert and/or have ample experience in assessing the quality and reliability of court experts. While the Feedback Giver may have either a legal or an academic background, they must have an affinity with scientific research. The Feedback Giver must adhere to the NRGD Code of Conduct, to the extent that it applies.

The group of Feedback Givers has been drawn from the existing group of NRGD assessors and thus Feedback Givers are appointed by the NRGD Board.

Guiding principles

As the Feedback Giver cannot be designated as an expert in the investigation, they can only give Feedback on those elements in the report that concern their own general expertise. It follows that the Feedback Giver (and by extension the Feedback itself) is limited to their own general knowledge and skills and to the NRGD Code of Conduct, in particular those elements pertaining to objectivity, confidentiality and data security.

The Feedback Giver checks whether:

  • the report and the underlying investigation answer the entire question.
    Please note: this is not always possible. Exceptions and comments may require in-depth knowledge of the subject;
  • the hypotheses are suitable for the question (if applicable);
  • the interpretation and formulation of the conclusion are clear and logically correct, including, for example:
    • the expert’s opinions do not presume to judge;
    • the report contains no errors of reasoning (e.g. prosecutor’s fallacy);
  • the arguments to support the conclusion are transparent;
  • the text is unambiguous and professional jargon is explained;
  • the Ad Hoc expert has followed the NRGD’s Forensic Report Guideline;
  • the Ad Hoc expert has adhered to the NRGD Code of Conduct.

In principle, the Feedback Giver does not check whether:

  • the conclusion is correct based on the scientific contents;
  • the report contains errors or omissions with regard to expertise-specific knowledge and skills;
  • the Ad Hoc expert has asked relevant forensic questions;
  • there has been any bias (e.g. context, confirmation or observer bias);
  • the research design was professionally correct (if applicable);
  • the Ad Hoc expert has stuck to their area of expertise.

Procedure

  • The Ad Hoc expert is advised by the commissioning party and/or through the Appointment Questionnaire about the opportunity to request Feedback.
  • The Ad Hoc expert is not obliged to request Feedback, but if they wish to do so, they contact the NRGD by email, stating their name, email address, telephone number and the case number of the Public Prosecutor.
  • The NRGD assesses whether the request falls within the scope of the Ad Hoc Expertise Project and qualifies for Feedback. If it does, the NRGD appoints a Feedback Giver. Both the Ad Hoc expert and the Feedback Giver are given the opportunity to object or to excuse themselves.
  • The Feedback Giver reviews the report in accordance with the guiding principles.
  • The Feedback Giver sends their Feedback, including comments and an explanation, to the Ad Hoc expert within two weeks.
  • The Ad Hoc expert reviews the Feedback and amends their report at their discretion and under their own responsibility.
  • The Ad Hoc expert must state in the report that Feedback was provided. They do not have to state which Feedback items they included in the report.
  • The Ad Hoc expert submits their report to the client.

Roles and responsibilities

  • The Ad Hoc expert bears ultimate responsibility for their report and must adhere to the NRGD Code of Conduct.
  • The Feedback Giver is responsible for the Feedback only and bears neither sole nor joint responsibility for the report.
  • The client is responsible for asking the Ad Hoc expert about the nature of the Feedback if this is relevant to the case.
  • The NRGD reviews requests for feedback and appoints a Feedback Giver for each request and is not involved in the further procedure of giving and receiving Feedback.
  • The supplier of the expert’s name (point of contact, broker), if any, is not responsible for the content of the report.