In last week’s blog post, Kristal Sajasi described Courtroom Insight’s custom expert witness research reports and explained how attorneys benefit from incorporating this research into their vetting process. Based upon my experience as an expert witness, I believe that it’s even more important for experts to take advantage of this type of research. Let me explain why.
In order to locate or vet an expert witness, attorneys initially seek referrals and feedback from colleagues. Next, attorneys often search for relevant documents from prior testimony. Such documents may include deposition transcripts, filed expert reports, published C.V.s and judicial opinions regarding expert witness challenges. Attorneys today have greater access to this information than ever before.
- Law firms
- Improved efforts to catalog and index all documents tagged to expert witnesses. Easily located via enterprise search tools.
- LexisNexis and Westlaw
- Subscription access to vast repositories of accumulated documents and data. Searchable by expert name or by case.
- Professional associations
- Defense attorneys and plaintiff’s associations collect and share documents with other members. Offer feedback on experts via group discussions.
Whether attorneys take advantage of one or more of these specific repositories of information or simply send email requests to their colleagues, rest assured that attorneys will scour the universe of available information regarding an expert’s challenge and testimonial history. Since this research will possibly be used during deposition or cross-examination at trial, it is imperative that experts know what information is out there.
This is especially important because it is common for experts to make a conscious decision NOT to retain previously filed expert reports and depositions transcripts due to future discovery requests. Therefore, previously issued opinions and published testimony may not be readily available for review. In addition, attorneys sometimes fail to notify experts about judicial rulings and comments pertaining to motions to exclude or limit an expert’s testimony.
If you already have subscription access to expert witness research available from LexisNexis or Westlaw, then that is a good place to start. However, your results will be limited unless you subscribe to both research services. In the alternative, I encourage you to order a FREE comprehensive assessment of available information from Courtroom Insight. A Preliminary Screening Report provides a snapshot of an expert’s testimonial history and any challenges to that testimony. The report is delivered within two business days and provides an essential summary of the potential information available. If your report shows enough hits, then we suggest that you order a more thorough paid research report to learn exactly what information exists.
Don’t delay in performing this important research, no matter how you approach it. Then you won’t be surprised about what attorneys already know about you!
Attorneys have an obligation to perform competent due diligence when hiring or cross-examining an expert witness. They often seek input from colleagues, review CVs, and assess reported credentials and case experience. It is also critical for attorneys to research Daubert and other challenges to an expert’s testimony. Understanding an expert’s challenge history helps attorneys avoid surprises in the courtroom.
Courtroom Insight saves attorneys time and money by providing thorough, cost effective research in a short amount of time. This research helps attorneys focus their efforts on the critical aspects of an expert’s background and testimonial history.
Our recent press release explains that through a partnership with Expert Witness Profiler, we now offer three different custom expert witness research reports. These profiles are created by a team of professional expert witness researchers who have access to databases not readily available to most law firms.
Preliminary Screening Report
- Provides a free snapshot of an expert’s testimonial history and an accurate assessment of how prolific a testifier that expert has been in the past.
Expert Challenge Study
- Provides an analysis of an expert witness’ prior history of being challenged, excluded, critiqued and endorsed by the court as a result of his or her qualifications, methodology, etc.
Expert Witness Profile
- This is the most comprehensive background report on an expert witness in the U.S. today. In addition to the expert challenge study, this report includes verification of licensing, certifications and educational background plus research into an expert’s professional background, disciplinary history, associations and memberships, publications, teaching and research, patents and trademarks, references in news, blogs and more.
For more information visit the Research tab on any expert witness profile on Courtroom Insight.
I am excited to announce our new partnership with the Daubert Tracker. As a result of this agreement, Courtroom Insight now offers access to over 100,000 records detailing specific challenges to expert witness testimony. This content is organized and accessible from individual expert and judge profiles on Courtroom Insight. Initially, the challenge data is only available to law firm subscribers; however, individual subscriptions will go on sale in the near future.
If expert witness reviews and challenge information isn’t enough, we also offer custom expert witness research reports that offer a comprehensive look at an expert’s background, prior and pending challenges, testimonial history and more. Performing due diligence about an expert witness has never been easier!
Read the full press release here.
A grand jury in Missouri decided on Monday not to indict Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Brown’s death has reignited the debate about law enforcement, race and power. The decision has led to riots and protests in multiple cities; people feel that justice was not served. Along with these protests, debates have started about possible ways to stop this from happening again. Michael Brown’s parents have opened the discussion by asking for “a sensible change in police procedures-namely, a move to equip street officers with tiny video cameras that would record interactions with citizens, including criminal suspects.” This is already taking place in a city in California and has seen a “dramatic reduction in use-of-force and complaints against officers.”
The Brown Family is holding a press conference now, tune in to follow the story.
The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against [us].” This is a rule that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld with few exceptions. The idea is that it is harder for someone to lie if they are facing both the court and the criminal defendant. Therefore, witnesses testifying through video is rarely seen. However, the present question is “whether it would make a difference if a witness testified by two-way video, with witness and accused able to observe each other simultaneously.”
The Supreme Court of Iowa ruled last week, saying “it depends.” Their reasoning is that while it doesn’t fully comply with the constitution, it should be judged on a case-by-case basis using U.S. Supreme Court standards. Justice Edward Mansfield of the Iowa Supreme Court said that “despite its preferability over one-way transmission, [he] does not believe two-way video-conferencing is constitutionally equivalent to the face-to-face confrontations envisioned by the Sixth Amendment.”
Source: The Des Moines Register
Ronald Harstad, a professor at the University of Missouri, was retained as an expert witness to calculate damages in a class action lawsuit. The case revolved around “alleged misrepresentations in the sale and marketing of prepaid calling cards.” The plaintiffs’ counsel (who retained Mr. Harstad) had come to an agreement (via a formal letter) that Mr. Harstad would produce monthly work logs, use students to help at a lower hourly rate, and that he would accept payment for each invoice over time. In April 2008, the plaintiffs’ counsel had supplied him with all the necessary information and Mr. Harstad calculated that the total costs for completing his reports would be $17,000 to $21,000.
Irrespective of his estimations, Mr. Harstad was paid $164,604.79 by September. In addition, he failed to complete invoices for October and November 2008 until December when he billed a total of $160,800 for all unpaid services through the end of that year. In January 2009, the plaintiffs’ counsel rejected that number and Harstad told them that if they did not pay, they were not allowed to use the reports that he completed. The plaintiffs’ counsel decided to hire a new expert witness who was able to complete everything they needed for $22,500.
The plaintiffs’ counsel “filed a declaratory judgment action to establish that they owed no futher amounts to Harstad. Harstad counterclaimed for breach of contract and unjust enrichment and sought $410,000 in damages.” The court rejected Harstad’s claim and decided that no further compensation was necessary. The court explained their decision, noting that Harstad broke the terms of the agreement and he had already received an amount that was far greater than his estimated price. Lastly, the court pointed out that because Harstad chose to void the agreement by refusing to let counsel use his reports, he could not sue for damages based on a breach of contract.
Source: The National Law Review