Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finding and Researching Experts and Their Testimony

Several years ago, an Arizona trial court judge overturned a jury’s verdict, ordered a new trial and sanctioned the defendant over half a million dollars because the defense expert had lied about his qualifications. Importantly, the judge based his decision to sanction on his expectation that the defendant would have conducted thorough research on the experts:

This court opined that defendant ... knew or should have known of the falsity of its own expert’s credentials,
but could not conclude that [defendant] in fact knew. This court has been persuaded by plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration that “should have known” warrants sanctions.
Expert witnesses are used in a wide range of litigation and their opinions are often viewed as critical—frequently they can make or break a case. As a result, many trials have turned into a battle of the experts. Yet despite their importance, few attorneys take the time to utilize the proper resources to find the right experts, evaluate their credentials, and/or assess the admissibility of their testimony.

The purpose of this article is to suggest various online resources that can be used to find experts, gather information about them (whether your own or the opposing party’s) and assess the admissibility of their testimony—as well as tips on how the information uncovered might be utilized. In addition, to assist in research efforts, some potentially relevant websites have been included. However, note that because many of the resources noted (e.g., agency opinions, verdict reports, etc.) are available from commercial vendors, such as LexisNexis® (see, e.g., LexisNexis Total Litigator, a task-based research platform that includes an entire subpage devoted solely to researching experts2), such full-service providers are not repeatedly listed as possible sources of information.3

One final note of caution: be wary of outrageous marketing claims. Some vendors will tout that they can provide you all of the information you need to identify, select or impeach an expert. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some products marketed through such claims actually miss relevant, and relatively easy-to-find, information about many experts—providing you with far less than what is promised. The simple upshot is that, although there are several fairly comprehensive products, platforms and services, we have yet to find one that does it all. So when evaluating resources, adhere to the well-known maxim: “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Article can be found here.

No comments: