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.
Legaltech hosted a panel called “How is Technology Being Used in Today’s Courtrooms and Cases?” We heard from 5 different federal judges who each had an opinion on the role of technology and how it has affected courtroom proceedings. Judge Andrew Peck, Southern District of New York, explained that opportunity for new technology in trial is dwindling because less cases are being taken to trial. He also explained that “when cases do get to trial, the presentation of the trial, even in the Southern District of New York, technologies vary from the lawyer that barely has one copy of a paper for an exhibit…to the fully wired courtroom, where virtually everything is computerized, there are monitors in front of each lawyer table, and either the courtroom deputy or one of the lawyers controls which screens he wants”. However, in order to work that type of technology in the courtroom, at least those in the Southern District of New York, the lawyer must come prepared since the courtrooms are not pre-wired.
Judge James C. Francis also made a point about how technology can help attorneys in a way that maybe they hadn’t thought before. He referenced a case where the facts of the case proved to be too confusing for the jury, leading to a mistrial. The second time, the attorney used technology to simplify facts and display them in an easier way, which ultimately led to a conviction.
Judge Pamela Sargent discussed the importance of using technology only if the attorney knows how. The use of technology must be a group effort, starting with vendors properly teaching attorneys how to use their product.
It seems, however, that the jury is still out. Technology is not as prevalent in the courtroom as they would expect. Fear of the unknown and content with current practices makes attorneys reluctant to adopt new technology.
Source: Legaltech news
Missouri Senator Mike Parson’s bill, SB 591, was brought to the committee yesterday. The bill “would provide the same high standards for trial evidence that is required in federal courts and many other states. Called the ‘Daubert standard,’ it ensures that only evidence deemed relevant, reliable and provided by qualified individuals will be admitted as expert testimony.”
The general counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce testified, joining the Associated Industries of Missouri, in support of the bill. The argument is that currently judges are using an outdated law, one made in 1923, to decide whether to admit an expert’s testimony. The current law has been replaced in most states, making it clear that Missouri needs to make a change.
Expert witnesses are very integral to the outcome of the trial and under Daubert, the judge is given a significant role in deciding if the expert meets the standards needed to testify.
Oscar Thomas was found guilty of murdering his ex-wife back in 2006. Court documents show that the decision was primarily based on the testimony of the prosecution’s expert witness that stated for a fact Mr. Thomas’ ex-wife died of “intentional strangulation” even though there was no external bruising. Thomas argued that he didn’t receive a fair trial because his counsel did not hire an opposing expert witness to counter with another forensic opinion. The state circuit court, however, denied Thomas’ request because they didn’t find any negligence on the attorney’s part. The state appeals court also denied his request, “but only on the ground that Thomas was not prejudiced by his counsel’s conduct, without addressing deficiency.” The Seventh Circuit, though, sided with Mr. Thomas stating that “given the weakness of the state’s case, especially as it relates to Thomas’s intent, had counsel reach out to a forensic pathologist, or another expert similar to the habeas expert, and the expert testified, there is a reasonable probability the outcome of the trial would have turned out differently.”
This case has called attention to the differing opinions as to how much deference federal appeals courts must give to state court decisions that have rejected a prisoner’s deficiency claims. Wisconsin, in this case, believes that Federal Courts are not honoring Congress’ mandates to afford significant deference to state courts under the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.