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Vol 21 No 10 Oct/Nov 2016

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Historians as Expert Judicial Witnesses in Tobacco Litigation: A Controversial Legal Practice


ISBN13: 9783319142913
Published: May 2015
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Country of Publication: Switzerland
Format: Hardback
Price: £117.00



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Historian Ramses Delafontaine presents an engaging examination of a controversial legal practice: the historian as an expert judicial witness. This book focuses on tobacco litigation in the U.S. wherein 50 historians have witnessed in 314 court cases from 1986 to 2014.

The author examines the use of historical arguments in court and investigates how a legal context influences historical narratives and discourse in forensic history. Delafontaine asserts that the courtroom is a performative and fact-making theatre. Nonetheless, he argues that the civic responsibility of the historian should not end at the threshold of the courtroom where history and truth hang in the balance.

The book is divided into three parts featuring an impressive range of European and American case studies. The first part provides a theoretical framework on the issues which arise when history and law interact. The second part gives a comparative overview of European and American examples of forensic history. This part also reviews U.S. legal rules and case law on expert evidence, as well as extralegal challenges historians face as experts.

The third part covers a series of tobacco-related trials. With remunerations as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars and no peer-reviewed publications or communication on the part of the historians hired by the tobacco companies the question arises whether some historians are willing to trade their reputation and that of their university for the benefit of an interested party.

The book further provides 50 expert profiles of the historians active in tobacco litigation, lists detailing the manner of the expert’s involvement, and West Law references to these cases. This book offers profound and thought-provoking insights on the post-war forensification of history from an interdisciplinary perspective. In this way, Delafontaine makes a stirring call for debate on the contemporary engagement of historians as expert judicial witnesses in U.S. tobacco litigation.

Subjects:
Evidence
Contents:
General Introduction
Introductory Theoretical Remarks on the Alleged Problematic Nature of the Interaction of History and Law
Clio’s Modern Paradox Unraveled
Introduction Part II
Modern Interactions of Law and History
The Globalization of the Historian as an Expert Witness
Litigation-Driven History
A Reassessment of Wijffels’ Concept of Forensic History
Introduction Part III
A History of Tobacco
Tobacco and Health: Towards a Contemporary Perspective
The Tobacco Industry and Its Tactics
Tobacco Litigation
United States v. Philip Morris et al.
Debates: Reflections in Academic and National Media
Historians in Tobacco Litigation, a Conclusion
Final Conclusion on the Involvement of Historians in Tobacco Litigation
Final Conclusion