Okay so we got a bit carried away with this week’s title, but I’ll prove my point below: that you can find an expert witness on any topic, and then we’ll get into the reality of the necessity of expert witnesses.
The judge’s decision: Posted On: March 31, 2007 by Jim Robinson, Esq.
Gang Expert Allowed to Testify in Illegal Immigration Trial
As reported in Pennsylvania’s Times Leader, U.S. District Judge James Munley allowed gang expert witness Jared Lewis to testify as an expert witness at a Pennsylvania trial regarding the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. Lewis testified that the gang named “MS-13″ had a presence in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and was one of the most dangerous gangs in the world.
Lewis was allowed to testify even though he had minimal law enforcement experience, did not include any published authoritative works in his resume, and his expert report did not include any information based on gang statistics specific to the area. The court found that his area of expertise is not an area about which many authoritative books have been written.
This week’s Bulletin covers the topic of Expert Witnesses; definition; why it is better to hire one sooner than later and selecting expert witnesses. Following the Bulletin text is the video pertaining to the above article on Mr. Robertson’s excellent and concisely named blog: Expert Witness Blog.
Definition: From Wikipedia:
An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the witness’s specialized (scientific, technical or other) opinion about an evidence or fact issue within the scope of their expertise, referred to as the expert opinion, as an assistance to the fact-finder.
History of Expert Witnesses: The earliest known use of an expert witness in English law came in 1782, when a court that was hearing litigation relating to the silting-up of Wells harbour in Norfolk accepted evidence from a leading civil engineer, John Smeaton. This decision by the court to accept Smeaton’s evidence is widely cited as the root of modern rules on expert evidence.
Why it’s better to hire an expert witness sooner rather than later:
1. The cost of finding out later that your client has a much weaker case than originally assessed will be far greater than the expert’s fee.
2. As much as one or one’s staff can conduct comprehensive research, an expert will have the real life experience of not only the subject matter, but unenvisioned or rebuttal scenarios and that can translate to a substantial difference in case settlement amount.
3. A well-qualified and respected expert lends significant credence to a trial case.
4. With expert discloser and pleading rules…its best to know your theories early.
Selecting an expert witness:
1. Ask colleagues who’ve experienced similar cases,
2. Review the expert’s testimony in a similar case.
3. Ask for recommendations from the expert witness. He or she should not have any issue providing you with references. Then follow through. Interview the references. Professional courtesy is usually extended and professionals speak the same language, so an assessment can quickly and accurately be made.
4. Some organization (ATLA??) should start a opt-in expert witness rated directory.
Note: The above recommendations should apply to both nontestifying and testifying witnesses.
And now the gang expert video (which proves you can find an expert on anything):
Good luck and successful results,
As always, stay safe,
BNI Operatives: Street smart; Web savvy.
Filed under: case, evidence, expert witness, opinion, testimony, trial | Leave a Comment »