Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Navigating Standard Expert Witness Challenges

     By HG.org

Standards were set for expert testimony to be provided and admissible for court in the case of Daubert. After this, the challenges associated with testimony provided by expert witnesses are known as the Daubert Trilogy.
These cases contributed to standards used in the court proceedings. The factors used to evaluate the possible reliability of expert testimony were addressed originally in this trilogy of cases. This is how the standards are used to challenge the witness and his or her knowledge and use in the courtroom when hired by the lawyer to strengthen the case. Both the defending and plaintiff counsel use these standards to determine if the witness should continue in the processes.

Daubertís Significance

To provide assistance with a case, expert testimony should not be required to be accepted in the scientific community as was applied through legal channels previous to Daubertís cases. After these cases, the admissibility of an expert witness must be determined through the relevance and reliability of provided and sought evidence for admittance. This evidence must be qualified as relevant through a rule implemented that explains it must assist in understanding obtained evidence or to detail facts related to an issue at hand. Additionally, the evidence supplied must be reliable. There are certain factors the judge must consider when making a determination if this evidence is reliable enough for admittance to the case.

Factors Provided to the Judge

The theory of the expert may be challenged in an objective manner so that it is not considered subjective and has a reasonable assessment for reliability. The expert witness theory has been subjected to peer review and publication when the field of study has been involved in the case. There must be a known or potential rate of error when involving a technique or theory. This is when it is applied. The Daubert cases provided for a more flexible inquiry. Unfortunately, this means that opposing counsel may ask additional questions that could discredit the expert witness.

The Importance of Conclusions of Expert Witnesses

The testimony of an expert witness may be excluded in a case when certain actions or issues arise. This is because the methodology and techniques should be the focus of the inquiry instead of the conclusion provided by the expert witness. It is important to understand and acknowledge all provided information from the expert witness, but there must be a distinction between conclusions and methods used to get there. It is possible to exclude the testimony of an expert witness when he or she has extrapolated a conclusion based entirely or a great part from existing or previous data of another professional. It has been determined that a gap between the information and opinion or conclusion is too great and not bridged enough in these instances.

The Use of Non-Scientific Evidence

A court case in 1999 assisted in deciding if non-scientific evidence may be provided by an expert witness for assistance in the relevant case. This would be technical or specialized knowledge provided to the judge for him or her to determine as part of the proceedings. The decision was complicated due to the possibility of admissibility in regards to disciplines and expertise. These would include branches such as economics, psychology and sciences considered non-professional. The Daubert issues focused on the reliability and processes used for evidence which caused a complicated split between courts and determining if non-scientific testimony should be permitted.

Because of the Daubert factors applied to one such case of an expert witness, his testimony was excluded because the evidence did not satisfy the provided Daubert specifics as applied to court cases. However, the circuit court may reverse this decision as was accomplished when someone was killed in a tire accident and a tire failure analyst was used. The Supreme Court upheld this decision which then broadened the standards of the Daubert factors to cover expert testimony of scientific principles and skill or experience-based observation. This means that since the inclusion of these standards, any expert testimony may be used as long as it is relevant and reliable as determined through the Daubert factors.

Expert Testimony and Challenges in the Future

Unfortunately, while many standards have been established that provide expert witness testimony in cases, there are many issues that have not been covered or understood. This means that the future is uncertain when challenges arise. Additional cases may provide assistance in these matters, but only by hiring an expert witness for a case may these determinations be completed as relevant to such cases. However, as the legal world grows, these concerns may be addressed and resolved.

Copyright HG.org


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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