Experts and Barristers

May 20, 2010

Justice James Wood retired as a NSW Supreme Court judge on 31 August 2005. During the retirement ceremony, Ian Harrison, who was then President of the Bar Association recounted some of his Honour’s achievements and referred to his Honour as “an enthusiastic proponent of refining – not to say revolutionising – the way in which courts receive expert evidence“. Wood J was apparently an enthusiastic supporter of concurrent expert evidence (which is disrespectfully referred to as “hot tubbing” and which was said to be “very Cranbrook”!).

However, his Honour showed his true views on experts when he apparently said (during the morning tea adjournment in a technically complex multi-party trial):

Experts are people who know much about a little and continue to learn more about less until they know everything about nothing. Barristers know a little about a lot, learning less about more until they know nothing about almost everything. Judges begin knowing everything, but end up knowing nothing. This is caused by barristers and experts.”

I need not say more. The full speech is available on the internet.

Creative commons attribution for the photograph: / CC BY 2.0

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