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Disqualifying an Expert Witness during the Voir Dire Process

To remove an expert witness during the initial states of a case, it is important to validly disqualify him or her within voir dire with objections or motions filed by the opposing lawyer early. This process often requires specific knowledge of reliable testing methods as applied to various pieces of evidence or knowing if the expert is a relevant professional for the field of study.

The Initial Process Challenge

To remove an expert witness through disqualification, the opposing lawyer or judge should seek to do so early on in the voir dire process. With the judge, this may occur if the professional engages in communication with the opposing legal team or is part of a conflict of interest through hire or in actions after the hire. The other lawyer in the case may seek to disqualify him or her through a motion such as a Daubert challenge or by exposing a conflict of interest. This may increase the strength of the case with the other lawyer, but the expert may still remain as a consultant for the lawyer that hired him or her.

Disqualification and the Consultant

When the opposing legal team is successful in a motion, objection or Daubert challenge, the expert witness will face a disqualification. After this happens, he or
she may still remain on the case behind the scenes as a consultant. This may provide funding for the situation, but the professional is no longer part of the case except to find a replacement to assist the lawyer for the subject matter. This may require assessing testing methods, reviewing testimony or reports from another or in explaining credentials and related fields of study from another expert.

The Field of Study and Qualifications

Many experts that take part in cases will do so based on their field of study. This ranges from the exact subject needed for the case to those that parallel the subject matter. Some experts are able to remain on a claim or case by explaining various issues such as compensation, injuries or the trauma the person experienced in an incident. These factors assist the professional in relevance to the situation, but the testing methods must still remain reliable with little error rate fluctuations. Peer review and a connection to the scientific community is also important to remain a designated expert witness.

Qualifications and credentials are crucial for an expert to take part in the courtroom. These must match an educational background, a mentor in the field and any community the expert is a part of when not working for the courts. The experiments and testing methods require empirical data and rigid methods that give verifiable results. Then, the professional will apply his or her opinions on facts that remain constant. This could lead to a reconstruction, forensic analysis or furthering of the understanding of the subject matter in the case. With everything remaining constant, the expert may remove confusion or detail something specific.

Pursuing the Disqualification

When the opposing legal team is able to gather sufficient data about a lack of professionalism, problems with the testimony or report or when the expert is not relevant or has no reliable testing methods, it is possible to pursue a disqualification of the expert from the case. Many of these matters involve the conflict of interest either through a working relationship with the expert or when the professional has knowledge of the other legal team’s strategy or processes. Explaining this to the judge may lead to the disqualification of the expert as well as the other lawyer in certain situations.

The Question and Answer in Voir Dire

To disqualify the expert during the initial phase of the case, the legal counsel will interview the professional about his or her testing, relevance, report and reliable results from methods used during the test period. The questions should answer details about confusing data or clear up any inconsistencies. When the lawyer is aware of a problem, he or she may raise various objections to the use of the expert in the case. It is usually in voir dire that the lawyer will issue a Daubert challenge to disqualify the expert.

Answers that fail to properly qualify the expert may exclude testimony or lead to the full disqualification of the professional. This depends on the answers and any errors, problems and issues with the credentials or related matters. The opposing legal counsel may successfully discredit the expert during voir dire that lead to the disqualification of the professional.

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Disclaimer: 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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