A peek behind the scenes at the morgue

For many years, forensic pharmacologist Morris Zedeck kept notes for a memoir of his experience as an expert witness in the justice system. When he decided to turn the notes into a book, he called it Expert Witness in the Legal System: A Scientist’s Search for Justice.

M Zedek photo

Morris had unusual credentials for writing such a book. A Ph.D. in pharmacology, he is married to Ellen Lieberman, a lawyer, so he is comfortable in the legal milieu. He came to study the ways that scientific evidence was used–and abused–in the civil and criminal courts and emerged with a nuanced sense of what can be done to remedy some of the injustice that is taking place all around us. That’s what his book addressed, along with a brief history of some forensic sciences at the end of the twentieth century.

He elected to self-publish his book so that he could finish it, publish it and move on. His friend Bill Bernhardt, an English professor, suggested that Morris get in touch with Ellen E. M. Roberts at Where Books Begin for a thorough review of the book before it was published. Ellen, a fan of CSI, adored the book because it went into depth where the TV shows simply skimmed the surface. She and Morris set about working to make the book conceptually clear, consistent, continuous and charming. They gave themselves three months for the task.

This book is unusual in its convergence of topic and author. Morris’ background as a teacher gave him a tremendous edge in presenting scientific information as part of his story. He had been explaining complicated science to judges, juries, attorneys and the media, most of whom are hopeless when it comes to science. Writing for the lay reader came naturally to him. He had the added advantage of being married to a smart lawyer, so he could show the legal side of scientific evidence in a dinner conversation style that was absorbing and interesting.