28 May 2015

BOOK: Ramses DELAFONTAINE, Historians as Expert Judicial Witnesses in Tobacco Litigation. A Controversial Legal Practice [Studies in the History of Law and Justice, 4; eds. M. Sellers & G. Martyn], Heidelberg/New York: Springer, 2015, 453 p. ISBN 978-3-319-14291-3

(image source: Springer)

Ramses Delafontaine (UGent, Department of History) published Historians as Expert Judicial Witnesses in Tobacco Litigation. A Controversial Legal Practice with Springer [Studies in the History of Law and Justice, 4; eds. M. Sellers & G. Martyn].

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.
Table of Contents:
General Introduction
Delafontaine, Ramses
  • Pages 1-5
  • Introductory Theoretical Remarks on the Alleged Problematic Nature of the Interaction of History and Law
    Pages 9-13
  • Clio’s Modern Paradox Unraveled
    Pages 15-27
  • Introduction Part II
    Pages 31-33
  • Modern Interactions of Law and History
    Pages 35-43
  • The Globalization of the Historian as an Expert Witness
    Pages 45-65
  • Litigation-Driven History
    Pages 67-105
  • A Reassessment of Wijffels’ Concept of Forensic History
    Pages 107-116
  • Introduction Part III
    Pages 119-125
  • A History of Tobacco
    Pages 127-141
  • Tobacco and Health: Towards a Contemporary Perspective
    Pages 143-156
  • The Tobacco Industry and Its Tactics
    Pages 157-171
  • Tobacco Litigation
    Pages 173-209
  • United States v. Philip Morris et al.
    Pages 211-259
  • Debates: Reflections in Academic and National Media
    Pages 261-275
  • Historians in Tobacco Litigation, a Conclusion
    Pages 277-296
  • Final Conclusion on the Involvement of Historians in Tobacco Litigation
    Pages 297-301
  • Final Conclusion
    Pages 303-309
 More information on the publisher's website.

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