Expert Witness Testimony

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness is a person who is qualified, either by actual experience or by careful study, to form definite opinions with respect to a division of science, technology, art, or a department of trade. He applies his scientific, technical, or any other specialized knowledge which will help the court understand the evidence or to determine a fact in the issue.

The importance of an expert witness in a judicial system

Expert witness testimony plays a vital role in the U.S. Judicial system. A jury is not necessarily equipped with the knowledge and background necessary to understand a case, especially if it involves technical aspects. The system of adjudicating such cases is often referred to as “the battle of the experts.” Hence, both the Plaintiff and Defendant are keen to retain credible experts in support of the case to persuade the jury.

How can an expert witness help to establish a case?

From the initial tasks of investigating, verifying and organizing facts to testifying at trial, the expert witnesses can make or break a case. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to do the homework and hire a qualified expert.

For example, in the case of a failure to administer the Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) by an emergency physician, a neurologist could testify that the medical literature clearly supports the use of TPA for all qualifying patients, and failure to use it is a deviation from the standard of this care. Hence, if the accused emergency physician failed to apply the TPA then the court may rule in favor of the Plaintiff, taking into consideration the testimony of the expert witness.

Law governing expert discoveries

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(a) (2) & (b) (4) govern the expert discovery rules. Prior to 2010, full disclosure of all the data and other information considered by the expert were required. However after 2010 Amendment, only the facts or data considered by the expert are required to be disclosed. Again, under the amended rules, all communications between the attorney and the testifying experts are protected from discovery.

Admissibility of expert testimony

All expert testimony is not admissible in the court of law. A qualified expert’s testimony may be rejected if it is not reliable or relevant to the facts in issue.

Rules governing admissibility of expert testimony are briefly stated as follows:

Between 1923 until 1993, federal judges and 45 states used the Frye rule based out of a federal case decided by the District of Columbia in 1923 ). Under Frye rule, the test for admissibility was that the scientific evidence must be based on the “generally accepted” principles within the specialized field in question, and that the reliability of such evidence is also generally accepted by the scientific world.

In 1974, Congress approved the Federal Rules of Evidence, which governed all evidentiary matters in federal court, including expert testimony. Specifically, Rule 702 reads:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.
In 1991 the case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. determined that the trial court judge would act as the “gatekeeper” and would be responsible for determining reliability of scientific evidence, and for keeping “junk science” out of the courtroom. This new test takes place prior to trial, during a “Daubert” inquiry to determine admissibility of the expert testimony. Although this rule applies to all federal courts, it is not followed by all states in U.S.

Services offered in relation to expert testimony

For an attorney, it is very important to search for a credible expert to support a case and also to have detailed information about the opponent’s experts to minimize their impact in the case. This will help to anticipate arguments, file and defend against Daubert motions, and prepare for depositions and trial examinations. The TaurusQuest team can assist the attorneys in three ways:

  1. Assist for credential search of particular expert: If the attorney is planning to retain a particular expert or has short listed few experts, TaurusQuest can research and publish a report for that expert or experts.
  2. Assist to search for a credible expert: We can also assist the attorneys and law firms in finding credible expert or experts suitable to their case based on our research of case laws and other online resources.
  3. Interact, evaluate and finalize: We can interact with the expert, evaluate their experience/profile, obtain proposals, negotiate on the best terms and provide final recommendation on the expert selected for the case.

A standard report on an expert, will consist of:

  1. Qualification and areas of expertise
  2. Experience
  3. Summary of previous testimony similar to the given nature of the
  4. Admissibility or weightage given to such testimony by the court
  5. Final rate per hour for testimony
  6. Reasons for our recommendation

TaurusQuest can also prepare a customized report depending on attorney’s specific requirement.

Information Required: Attorney or law firm need to fill in a brief questionnaire:

  1. Name of the expert (In case of credential search of particular expert)
  2. Nature of the suit
  3. Nature of the testimony
  4. Any specific expertise required, for example, Pulmonary Diseases Practitioner testifying on treatment of chronic obstructive lung disease.

TaurusQuest explores all possible online resources to prepare the report.

After completion of the research, the report is prepared in the standard template and sent to the client. By leveraging Taurusquest, attorneys and law firms save not only time, effort and costs, but also get to work on other important aspects of the case.

To find more about TaurusQuest, visit www.taurusquest.com or send an email to us at enquiry@taurusquest.com

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