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
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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.
We previously assessed the success rate of challenges to expert witness testimony during 2015. Now we compare the differing results for challenges brought in Federal Court versus those brought in State Court. The historical results show a dramatic difference.
In certain recent years, Daubert Challenges were twice as likely to be successful in Federal Court compared with challenges brought in State Court. Obviously, different jurisdictions within these broad categories will display a further variation of results. We encourage users to research specific courts and specific judges when it comes to assessing the likelihood of success for such challenges. (Courtroom Insight offers powerful search tools and filters that allow users to analyze the rulings of each judge for specific expert disciplines, areas of law, etc. Visit Courtroom Insight to learn more.)
This analysis is based upon a comprehensive review of over 100,000 challenges to expert witness provided by the Daubert Tracker and categorized by Courtroom Insight. Future blog posts will compare the success rates of such challenges for different professions.
Following up on our earlier analysis of the historical success rate of challenges to expert witness testimony, we have the results of over 8,500 challenges recorded during 2015. Challenge outcomes are summarized into the following categories:
- Testimony admitted
- Testimony excluded or partially excluded
- Testimony relied upon or given significant weight
- Testimony not relied upon or given little weight
- Unknown or not categorized
In summary, over 20% of recorded Daubert challenges were at least partially successful in 2015. In addition, nearly 17% of cases resulted in testimony that was ignored or given little weight by the judge. Our next blog post will compare the success rate of Daubert challenges in federal and state courts.