The Next Step in Preparing to Cross-Examine the Doctor


After you have decided on the narrow field on which you will cross-examine the State’s doctor, what next?

Go to pubmed.com, where you can search a database of medical journal articles. Pick out the keywords from the premises that you want to investigate, and search for these keywords in every combination you can think of. Try variations: sex assault reveals 977 results and sexual assault reveals 2016; hymenal reveals 142 and hymen reveals 615. In the course of searching, other possible terms might appear. For example, a search for hymen sexual assault turns up references to colposcopy. Add that term to your list of search terms.

For each search, you’ll get a list of articles, with the authors’ names clickable links. Click on the link for each title that looks promising, and you’ll see the abstract of the article. If the abstract makes you want to read more, print out the abstract and add it to your stack.

A little background here: medicine, like trial lawyering, is both art and science. The state of the art of medicine is memorialized in medical journals. Doctors write medical journal articles because they have something to say that not everybody else recognizes as the truth. Either it’s something new, or it’s something controversial. What we’re looking for in this search is journal articles that show one of two things about about the premises that we would like to challenge: either that they are controversial or (ideally) that they are outdated.

So, now we have a stack of abstracts from medical journal articles that we think relate to the premises of the doctor’s conclusions. What do we do with them?

Tune in next week to find out.

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