The article, based on an analysis of judicial and investigative practices, highlighted the complex issues relating to the legal status of an expert and a specialist, ensuring their independence, evaluating and using the conclusions of an expert and a specialist by the court in strict compliance with and ensuring the principle of equality of the parties in the criminal process.
The defense has the right to request the cross-examination of the expert, regardless of whether he was questioned at the pre-trial investigation stage. This does not exclude the possibility of using the previous testimony in court (protocol, audio, video recording), but only for the purpose of establishing contradictions. Refusal to satisfy the petition is a violation of the Convention requirements for a fair trial and equality of the parties. A tacit refusal of any guarantee of justice is not excluded, but at the same time, the existence of such a refusal must be proved «unequivocally».
The court is obliged to accept as evidence from the defense the findings of the expert on the same issues on which the prosecution provided the findings of the state examination. The rules of admissibility of evidence may sometimes be contrary to the principles of equality of the procedural capacities of the parties and the adversarial process or otherwise affect the fairness of the proceedings. The rules for the admissibility of the conclusions of a specialist should not deprive the party of defense of the opportunity to effectively challenge them, in particular, by using them in the case or obtaining other opinions and conclusions.
The state prosecution is obliged to disclose to the defense all available evidence (the conclusions of the examination for the benefit of the prosecution, and for the benefit of the defense). Hiding expert conclusions is a violation of the principle of equality of the parties.
In the context of globalization, it is often necessary to use evidence obtained in the territory of a foreign state. All documents must be provided to the defense for review in plain language. If at the end of the investigation some documents are not translated and it is provided only after the start of the judicial review, the court is obliged to announce their contents and provide them for review. According to the Court, this does not constitute a violation of the right to defense.
In case of poor-quality translation, the party has the right to request a re-transfer.
If documents in a foreign language remain in the case file (without translation), this does not indicate a violation of convention standards if the arguments contained in these documents are not based on the indictment or conviction.
Thus, in order to provide methodological assistance to law enforcement agencies and courts in the application of legislation related to the involvement of experts and the assessment of their findings, it is necessary to develop guidelines with regard to international standards, convention requirements, as well as to make changes and additions to existing legislation.
Key words: criminal proceedings, «scientific judges», questioning of an expert, expert opinion, specialist opinion, European Court of Human Rights.