A Civil Grand Jury in San Francisco mandated on June 1, 2016 that the San Francisco Police Department Crime Lab divest itself from the SFPD and become an independent entity. The Crime Lab has long been plagued by a number of scandalous incidents, including a lab employee stealing and using evidentiary cocaine in 2010 and a DNA analyst failing a proficiency test in 2014. Problems with case tracking and lab management with little or no scientific background have also surfaced.
Although the Lab was recently accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLAD), the Jury found that additional steps, including replacing the current Lab Director with a civilian and removing the Lab from the oversight of the SFPD were necessary in order to increase the credibility of the Lab in court and in the community.
There will, of course, be implications of this change in management and in the findings of the Grand Jury. Laboratory staff and management will likely need to defend their previous work on past cases and all current cases in the courtroom. Defense attorneys are sure to use these Jury findings as a way to challenge the witness’ expertise and ability to work in an unbiased fashion. Maintaining a high level of transparency and accountability will be important if the Lab is to raise its status in the legal community.
Read the full article here: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sfpd-shouldnt-oversee-crime-lab-report-recommends
In April, lawmakers in Missouri passed a bill that work to ensure that all experts who testify in court are actually experts. This bill would allow expert testimony only after determining it was based on “sufficient facts” and “reliable principles and methods,” as well as being “reliably applied” to the facts of the case. The few notable exceptions to the new law are divorce and adoption cases and other cases in juvenile and family court. The overall goal is to be “sure that the jury can rely upon expert testimony.”
This law arguably strengthens expert testimony admissibility requirements and reinforces the judicial gatekeeping role. Learn more about specific challenges to expert witness testimony at Courtroom Insight.
Read the full excerpt here http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/27/missouri-legislature-passes-bill-to-add-expert-wit/
Expert Witness Testimony in Death Cases Jeopardized in LA County with recent departure of County Coroner
Citing lack of personnel and resources, as well as a backlog in cases, Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Mark Fajardo suddenly announced his resignation from the LA County Coroner’s office in March 2015. Over 8,500 autopsies are performed in LA County each year. Dr. Fajardo’s departure also puts LA County’s accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) at risk. Accreditation with NAME requires that Medical Examiners perform at least 250 autopsies per year and 90% of cases must be cleared within 90 days. While not required in the U.S., accreditation becomes crucial when the Medical Examiner appears in court on homicide or suspicious death cases.
According to Dr. David Fowler (NAME), L.A. County is not the only jurisdiction to face these challenges in their ME offices. Other counties across the United States report similar shortfalls in trained Medical Examiners coming out fellowship programs. Currently, enough Medical Examiners graduate to replace those leaving the profession for retirement, indicating that this shortfall is not likely to disappear anytime soon. A substantial deficit in accredited Medical Examiners, has complex and dire implications in the courtroom, leaving room for unnecessary challenges.
Read the entire article at http://www.pe.com/articles/county-800263-coroner-department.html?page=1
Courtroom Insight is proud to announce the launch of our new attorney directory and international functionality. Clients may now use our powerful knowledge management system to share information about attorney referrals and/or opposing counsel. In addition, clients in international jurisdictions may track and share information about experts, arbitrators, judges and attorneys in countries outside of the United States. Courtroom Insight is the only litigation knowledge management platform that integrates internal experiences with important external content and research.
Please contact us to learn more about how Courtroom Insight helps your firm minimize litigation risk and improve attorney performance.
Our previous analyses of Daubert Challenges reveal different success rates by jurisdiction and by expert profession. Every challenge has unique facts and circumstances, however a careful analysis of prior challenge rulings by the court and regarding the specific expert witness may prove critical to the arguments and outcome of each new challenge.
All of the challenge records in our database contain critical information regarding disposition, case caption and citation, parties, counsel, area of law and more. The full text of judicial opinions is also available directly from each record. Users who purchase Individual Subscriptions to Courtroom Insight are able to instantly analyze expert witness challenge activity for specific experts and judges.
Learn more about Expert Witness Challenge Data at Courtroom Insight.
Our final post regarding Daubert Challenges compares the historical success rate of challenges to expert witness testimony. We analyzed the total Daubert Tracker database of over 100,000 challenges and assessed outcomes by major discipline. The results are as follows:
Medical Doctors, Engineers and Financial Experts Comprise Over One-Half of All Daubert Challenges Recorded in 2015
The Daubert Tracker recorded nearly 9,000 challenges to expert witness testimony during 2015. The breakdown by overarching expert witness discipline breaks down as follows:
Next, we will assess the historical outcomes of challenges for each of the major discipline categories.