Rhonda Wheate

Dr

  • Knowledge Exchange, Law
  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Expert evidence
Disclosure
Legal understanding of science and scientific evidence
Juries
Criminal law
Law of evidence

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

Loving both reading and calculations, I studied Science (University Medal for chemistry, Hons Class I) and Law (Hons Class I) at university in Australia. This showed me how science and law can be combined to deliver better access to justice for defendants, victims, jurors and society. All of my subsequent work, as an academic and in practice, has been about pursuing better access to justice, beginning with the role of Associate to Chief Justice T. Higgins in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.

Then, under the supervision of Professor Eric Magnusson (Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales) and Professor James Robertson (Head, Australian Federal Police Forensic Services), my PhD research asked: How well do real juries in criminal trials comprehend scientific evidence? (The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is 'not very well'.) As well as asking real jurors, I also studied mock jurors, and working with the National Institute of Forensic Science, I interviewed forensic scientists from all seven states and territories of Australia for this research, and was awarded the Ria de Groot Prize for best female postgraduate for my PhD.

My later work in Australia and the UK has focused on how forensic science gets turned into expert evidence in the law courts. I study how expert evidence is used by scientists, judges and lawyers and what effect this has on access to justice for the prosecution, defence, jurors and society.

As well as working as an academic at universities in the UK and Australia, doing knowledge exchange activities, research and teaching, I have worked as a scientific and legal analyst at The Forensic Institute and I am the Impact Lead for the Scottish Institute for Policing Research. My current research with Police Scotland, Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid and others is examining how to improve access to justice for victims of domestic abuse and honour-based violence

At the University of Strathclyde, I have the privilege of working with the Strathclyde Law Clinic and Law School to provide access to justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and Clinical Legal Education to our students.

I deliver Continuing Professional Development courses and consultancy to legal practitioners, forensic scientists, expert witnesses and judges; as well as teaching criminal law, the law of evidence, and ethics and justice; and supervising Honours, Masters and PhD students in these areas.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Laws, Australian National University

Doctor of Science, University of New South Wales, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy

Bachelor of Science, University of Western Sydney

External positions

Impact Lead, Scottish Institute for Policing Research

27 Apr 2022 → …

Keywords

  • criminal justice
  • criminal law
  • expert evidence
  • forensic science
  • jury trials
  • Clinical legal education
  • evidence
  • disclosure
  • Domestic Abuse,
  • honour-based abuse
  • Access to Justice

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