School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

Learning to be an Expert Witness is all part of our Computer Forensics and Security course

Dr Maurice Calvert explains why its important we provide students with real-life experiences.

Courtroom Roleplay

Appearing in court as an expert witness is part of the job of a digital forensic investigator. Providing digital evidence for legal teams is fundamental to the work many of our graduates undertake. You might be working on both criminal and civil investigations. Like any evidence, digital evidence must be unquestionably accurate. Just as important, it must be understandable by solicitors, barristers, judges and jury members who will not have the technical knowledge of an IT specialist.

To give our students the best possible experience of a real court room, we hold a Mock Trial after Easter of Year 2. A practising solicitor delivers a series of lectures and workshops to explain how the English legal system works and to outline your duties as an expert in the courts.  As part of a team, you complete an investigation into a criminal or civil case and you write an Expert Report for the legal team.

No one is expected to take part in cross-examination, but we always have plenty of volunteers. Careful preparation and knowledge of your Expert Report is the key to giving expert evidence in court. On the day of the Mock Trial, in the Mock Court Room at Leeds Beckett, a professional barrister cross-examines each volunteer, supported by their team mates. A solicitor acts as the judge, keeping the questioning fair and relevant. After each cross-examination, the barrister and judge summarise the line of questioning and the lessons to be learnt from the case and its report.  These are life experiences that will give you the edge when applying to start a career in digital forensics.

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