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Expert Witness Testimony in School Shooting Cases

An expert witness may become part of a school shooting case to help remove confusion about the evidenced or reconstruct the incident, so a criminal case may progress or a lawsuit for compensation may happen with a clearer understanding of the circumstances. Through his or her experience and knowledge, testimony about the case may hold less fear and lack of comprehending.

An expert witness is often invaluable in recreating a scene, incident or problem that occurs. In a school shooting case, the expert could have the task of explaining how the shooter or shooters accomplished the task or in providing the plaintiff with the means to recover compensation for the injury or death of a loved one. The issue with the case generally involves recreating the incident. This may include explaining where the accused entered the school, how he or she or they acquired the firearms and which injured parties were targets or simply in the way. This may clear up confusion and explain the incident better for the courtroom.

Innocent Bystanders

A school shooting often involves at least one injury or death. However, if the shooter is not clearly firing on someone specific, there are others that may get in the way and suffer injury through the actions of the shooter. Injuries may include gunshots, trample injuries through others getting out of the way or falls from trying to dodge the bullets. Those not targeted by the shooter may bring a case through litigation or supply the prosecution with additional testimony against the shooter. Through contact with an expert witness, this could increase the evidence of the case for a plaintiff or when seeking legal justice.

The Plan of Action by the Expert

Through creating a plan of action in determining what happened, the expert may have a better chance of recreating the shooting at the school. The professional may need the blueprints of the school buildings, the video surveillance of the incident if any exists and the scheduling of classes. This will also include paths the shooter may have taken during his or her attack. Any situations or circumstances that led to the shooting such as bullying by others, physical or emotional attacks and negative incidents in class could add to the reasons why the shooter started his or her rampage. In some court cases, this could cause a sharing of responsibility with a limited amount of compensation or loss of all monetary compensation.

After the plan of action for the recreation starts, the expert may discover how, why, when and where the shooting factors took place. For criminal cases, the expert may need to hold the elements to higher standards. His or her words will provide confidence in the judge or jury that the defendant is the culprit. Any mitigating defense strategies used by the legal defense team may lose strength through the expert’s description and explanation. If the attack held premeditated elements, this could prove that the defendant knew what he or she was going to do and how. Then, through the expert witness, the courtroom may become aware that a lower sentencing is not appropriate.

The Expert in a Criminal Defense Proceeding

When the person accused of involvement in a school shooting presents a plea of not guilty, he or she may need an expert witness to explain how he or she was either defending against the attack or the case includes a mistaken identity issue. The expert’s testimony in the matter may progress through the mountain of evidence either in support of this theory or against the proof that the person defending against the allegations is actually innocent. It is the expert’s opinion that the judge or jury may require in unravelling the matter and how the accused is not the shooter but either framed or was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If he or she sustained an injury, this may provide additional evidence that he or she is not guilty.

The Civil Expert with the Plaintiff

For the injured or deceased parties, the civil claim must proceed with evidence that proves the defendant caused the death or injuries. The expert will use the same evidence to demonstrate to the courtroom how the accused was at the scene with the weapon in hand. If the victim is able to supply a statement as a witness, this may increase the proof and strengthen the lawsuit so that the victim or the surviving family may recovery financially.

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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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