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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.
Foreword; Alain Wijffels.- Preface.- Acknowledgments.- Chapter 1: General Introduction.- Part I: History and Law.- Chapter 2: Introductory Theoretical Remarks on the Alleged Problematic Nature of the Interaction of History and Law.- Chapter 3: Clio's Modern Paradox Unraveled.- Part II: Historians as Expert Witnesses.- Chapter 4: Introduction Part II.- Chapter 5: Modern Interactions of Law and History.- Chapter 6: The Globalization of the Historian as an Expert Witness.- Chapter 7: Litigation-Driven History.- Chapter 8: A Reassessment of Wijffels' Concept of Forensic History.- Part III: Tobacco Wars.- Chapter 9: Introduction Part III.- Chapter 10: A History of Tobacco.- Chapter 11: Tobacco and Health: Towards a Contemporary Perspective.- Chapter 12: The Tobacco Industry and its Tactics.- Chapter 13: Tobacco Litigation.- Chapter 14: United States v. Philip Morris et al..- Chapter 15: Debates: Reflections in Academic and National Media.- Chapter 16: Historians in Tobacco Litigation, a Conclusion.- Chapter 17: Final Conclusion on the Involvement of Historians in Tobacco Litigation.- Chapter 18: Final Conclusion.- Appendix I: Expert Witness Profiles.- Appendix II: Historians Who Have Testified as an Expert Witness in Tobacco Litigation.- Appendix III: Timetable Involvement Historians as Expert Witness in Tobacco Cases.- Appendix IV: A Code of Ethics for Historians, by Antoon De Baets.
"Delafontaine book, apart from providing a useful addition to scholarship on the tobacco debate, makes a number of insightful observations about the need for historians to engage constructively with historiographic questions and the development of professional standards, if they are to fulfil their legitimate roles as expert witnesses." (David Mercer, Metascience, Vol. 25 (3), November, 2016)
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