May 31, 2007

Organized Crime Expert Witness to Testify in Mob Family Trial

Organized crime expert witness and former FBI agent James Wagner will be allowed to testify at the trial of several alleged mob figures accused of taking part in a conspiracy that included 18 murders. U.S. District Judge James Zagel said expert witness Wagner can discuss how the so-called Chicago Outfit is structured and how it operates, although he can't talk about individual members or the defendants.

Defense attorneys do not want Wagner, head of the Chicago Crime Commission and former head of the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago, to link their clients to the mob. The trial is expected to start in June and is aimed at clearing up unsolved gangland slayings, reports the The Journal Gazette - Times Courier.

May 30, 2007

Redistricting Expert Witness Speaks to California Assembly

Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures will be the lead expert witness at the California Assembly Elections Committee hearings on redistricting. The NCSL is a bipartisan group representing all 50 state legislatures. Storey, an expert witness on redistricting, is a senior fellow with NCSL and has authored many articles on the redistricting and elections processes.

So far this year more than 25 states have considered proposals, but so far none has passed one. In the last two year period preceding this year, 23 states looked at proposals according to the California Progress Report.

May 29, 2007

Expert Witness Testimony is Topic at Symposium

Justice T. David Little of the Ontario Superior Court spoke at the Advocates’ Society 2007 Spring Symposium in Toronto regarding expert witnesses. Justice Little said that expert witnesses are there to assist the court with issues that it may not understand. “Tell the expert before they get on the stand, ‘Don’t be an advocate.” In Ontario counsel have to seek leave from the trial judge if they wish to call more than three expert witnesses.

Also speaking at the symposium was Joan Lukey, a partner with WilmerHale in Boston. Ms. Halle spoke on holographic evidence. The technology has been used in one trial so far in the United States in a case that questioned a surgeon’s actions during a medical procedure. A holographic model of the operating room was created as evidence, which resembled the actual scene from the day in question, complete with the appearance of virtual figures in the room, as reported in LawTimes.com.

May 28, 2007

Citizens' Landfill Expert Witnesses Prevail

Yorkville, IL residents called their own expert witnesses to fight landfill developer Fox Moraine LLC's plan for a landfill on the city's southwest side. Fox Moraine argued that properties near the facility would suffer no serious harm. After hearings, Yorkwille aldermen voted 7 to 1 against the plan. Aldermen Golinski described Fox Moraine's landfill expert witness as "unconvincing."

Many of the city officials have questioned Fox Moraine's safety measures, its traffic plan and its compliance with Kendall County rules, which ban landfills within city limits says the BeaconNews Online.

May 27, 2007

Expert Henry Lee May Have Removed Evidence in Spector Case

The judge in Phil Spector's murder trial ruled that forensic scientist expert witness Henry Lee removed something from the scene where actress Lana Clarkson was shot and withheld it from the prosecution. Lee has previously testified in the high profile cases of O.J. Simpson, William Kennedy Smith, Kobe Bryant, JonBenet Ramsey, Scott Peterson, Chandra Levy, Michael Skakel, Vincent Foster and the Branch Davidian compound fire.

Dr. Lee has a lot to lose here," said Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, casting doubt on the expert's credibility.

Judge Fidler heard testimony from several witnesses on the mystery of a piece of fingernail missing from the crime scene. Lee's expert witness testimony is expected to interpret blood spatter patterns supporting the claim that Clarkson killed herself in Spector's home reports CNN.com.

May 26, 2007

Expert Witness Prohibited From Using Shaken Baby Syndrome Designation

Judge Elizabeth Thomakos will allow no child abuse expert witness to use the term Shaken Baby Syndrome in the Marsha Mills murder trial, beginning next week in New Philadelphia. According to the TimesReporter.com:

Thomakos explained the expert witnesses presented by the prosecution will not be permitted to give an opinion that the child was diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome, will not be allowed to testify Mills shook him and will not be permitted to comment on whether Mills was truthful in her version of events....Thomakos used a recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in a case involving Battered Woman’s Syndrome to evaluate the admissibility of expert testimony. She decided that should Steiner testify the boy died from Shaken Baby Syndrome, he would take away the role of the jury in determining Mills’ credibility. The testimony of the expert could cause a juror to conclude the expert believed the defendant is guilty.

May 25, 2007

Expert Witness Testimony Subject to Frye-Reed hearing

The Maryland Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals unanimous decision that a Frye-Reed hearing is necessary to determine the validity of expert witness testimony in the case of Josephine Chesson, et al. v. Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company. The plaintiffs, employees of Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church in Columbia, claim they suffer a disease known as "sick building syndrome" because toxic mold was found behind a wall. "sick building syndrome" expert witness Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker testified on their behalf. LegalNewsline.com stated that:

Defense counsel argued that a hearing should have taken place to determine if Shoemaker's beliefs regarding sick building syndrome are widely accepted, a practice established in 1978's Reed v. State decision and designed to determine the admissibility of an expert's testimony. It interpreted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from the 1920s.
Justice Irma Raker wrote. "We shall hold that the expert's testimony should have been the subject of a Frye-Reed hearing."

May 23, 2007

Expert Witness Testifies in Voting-rights Trial

Lisa Handley, political scientist statistics expert witness for the federal government, testified in the 2007 Port Chester mayoral election voting-rights trial. Handley said:

She is very confident that the village election system dilutes the Hispanic vote and testified that there is an overall pattern of racially polarized voting in the village.
According to Lower Hudson Online, expert witness Handley analyzed 16 elections and concluded that the candidate preferred by Hispanic voters was defeated in 12 of those races.


May 22, 2007

Fall Out Continues for Expert's Perjured Testimony

The perjured testimony from Joseph Kopera, Maryland's police ballistics expert witness who killed himself this month after being confronted with evidence that he had falsified his credentials continues to affect the cases in which he testified.

Maryland prosecutors and defense attorneys have said that revelations about Kopera's falsified credentials could force new trials for some of the hundreds of people he helped convict in a career that spanned nearly four decades.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, one defense attorney stated: "The point is not that the jury might have evaluated his conclusions differently if they had known that his knowledge was based only on 'on the job training,' although that is certainly a possibility. Rather, the point is that once a jury is aware that a state's expert has utterly failed to abide by the oath given to all witnesses, the jury reasonably can conclude that the witness has little regard for the truth."

May 22, 2007

Expert Witness Pleads Guilty to Perjury

James Earl Edmiston, who fraudulently testified he was a computer expert witness, has recently pleaded guilty to federal perjury charges. Federal agents arrested Edmiston in September, 2006 after they became suspicious of the qualifications listed on his curriculum vitae. For example, Edmiston had featured degrees from the California Institute of Technology and the UCLA. It was revealed that these schools didn't offer the degrees Edmiston had listed.

According to California's Fresno Bee, Edmiston's downfall came after he was retained by Fresno attorneys to work on two child pornography cases. Local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents involved in the cases noticed some inaccuracies on his résumé, and further checks found alleged multiple false statements. It was also revealed that Edmiston served time in prison for forgery.

Edmiston could receive up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced July 13 by U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill.

It is not clear sure how many cases Edmiston worked on as an expert witness, or what will be the fate of those cases.

May 22, 2007

Fire Expert's Testimony Critical to Case

Robin Clifton's 21-day arson trial, for which 800 potential jurors had been called, has been postponed for an expert witness to continue preparing. Stephen B. Spies, a retired special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, is the arson expert witness mentioned in the motion. Clifton is accused of setting four fires on Sept. 5, 2005, two of which destroyed the Rifle Amoco station. He allegedly set other fires at a restaurant and a townhouse under construction.

According to the Post Independent, the size of the jury pool was a result of heavy pretrial publicity of the case and the anticipated length of the trial. Clifton had sought unsuccessfully to have the trial moved elsewhere because of the amount of local media attention the case had received.

May 21, 2007

Fingerprint Expert Witness Testifies Re: Terrorism Suspect

Former FBI fingerprint expert witness testified that terrorism suspect Jose Padilla's fingerprints match at least seven of 45 latent prints found on an alleged application for Al Qaeda holy war training.

Padilla and his two codefendants are charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap or maim people abroad and with providing material support to terrorists. Padilla was accused after his May 2002 arrest of plotting to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city. But Padilla's public defenders cast doubt on the validity of both the prints and the so-called mujahedeen data form, a cornerstone of the government's case. The form has been described by other expert witnesses as a "pledge" to fight on behalf of beleaguered Muslims abroad.

Padilla's questioned the thoroughness of the evaluation, asking expert witness Morgan why he hadn't sought a broader set of the defendant's prints, according to the latimes.com.

May 20, 2007

Expert Witness Testimony Upheld in Mariposa v. Westfalia

The U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, affirms lower court ruling on expert witness testimony. In Mariposa Farms, LLC. v. Westfailia-Surge, Inc., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 473, Westfalia unsuccessfullly tried to discredit farm equipment expert witness testimony. The higher court found that Dr. Sybren Reitsma's and Dr. Corbett's testimony provided the jury with sufficient evidence to find that Westfalia was negligent and breached its warranties.

Mariposa Farms, Inc. filed suit in July 2003 against Westfalia alleging negligence and breach of warranty resulting from the installation and operation of cow-milking equipment manufactured by Westfalia. Mariposa alleged that the equipment malfunction created unstable vacuum pressure, which eventually caused mastitis to spread throughout its herd. At trial, Mariposa expert witness Dr. Sybren Reitsma testified that, based on photographs and conversations with Mariposa's principal manager Larry Skelley, it was his expert opinion that the design and installation of Westfalia's vacuum system caused the unstable vacuum pressure which led to the mastitis outbreak. Another Mariposa expert witness, Dr. Robert Corbett, opined that the milking machine equipment malfunction caused the mastitis spread because, in his experience, the bacteria could not spread as rapidly as it did without the presence of a milking machine malfunction
.

May 19, 2007

Expert Witness Scientific Evidence on Mesothelioma Ruled Admissable

On January 30, 2007, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that plaintiffs' epidemiology expert witness Dr. Richard Allen Lemen presented scientifically reliable, and therefore legally admissible, evidence drawing a causal connection between mesothelioma and inhalation of brake-lining dust. Chapin v. A&L Parts, et al., 2007 Mich. App. LEXIS 156. The disagreement between defendants’ occupational health expert witness Dr. Michael Goodman was on the causal connection. The court ruled:

The fact that two scientists value the available research differently and ascribe different significance to that research does not necessarily make either of their conclusions unreliable. Indeed, science is, at its heart, itself an ongoing search for truth, with new discoveries occurring daily, and with regular disagreements between even the most respected members of any given field. A Daubert-type hearing of this kind is not a judicial search for truth. The courts are unlikely to be capable of achieving a degree of scientific knowledge that scientists cannot….The inquiry is not into whether an expert's opinion is necessarily correct or universally accepted. The inquiry is into whether the opinion is rationally derived from a sound foundation.

In the dissent, Judge O’Connell found that plaintiff's expert witness and defendants' expert testified that no less than 15 epidemiological studies have been conducted to determine if there is an empirically verifiable correlation between brake grinding and mesothelioma, none of these studies established a causal connection Therefore, under Daubert, Dr. Lemen's testimony should be inadmissible.

May 18, 2007

P2P Technology Expert Witness Hired in UMG v. Lindor

Marie Lindor has retained a well known expert witness in her Brooklyn federal court case, UMG v. Lindor. RIAA alleges copyright infringement due to shared files on Lindor's home computer. Professor Johan Pouwelse, P2P technology expert, will testify regarding file sharing networks.

Prof. Johan Pouwelse, Chairman of the Parallel and Distributed Systems Group of Delft University of Technology, testified against RIAA's MediaSentry 'investigations' (PDF) in a case in the Netherlands. His expert witness testimony resulted in the court directing ISPs in the Netherlands not to turn over their subscribers' information. Lindor hopes to discredit RIAA's software expert witness, Dr. Doug Jacobson, writes the New York Country Lawyer.

May 17, 2007

Expert Witnesses Warn Senators of Future High Gas Prices

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard expert witness testimony in an attempt to find causes behind record-high gasoline prices. Oil and gas expert witnesses described years of a lack of investment in refinery capacity as a primary factor in rising prices.

Deutsche Bank's Paul Sankey, oil and gas production expert witness, said years of oil companies losing money led to many companies neglecting refinery investment. A contributing factor was the Texas City explosion, which caused other refiners to operate more cautiously and with less capacity. As the Associated Press reports, last year also saw the temporary shutdown of production at Prudhoe Bay due to maintenance problems.


May 16, 2007

Exeprt Says 99.9% Certainty Young Girl Was Sexual Abused

A Des Moines mother alleges that her young daughter was being sexually abused by the child's father. Pictures led the mother's expert witness to conclude with 99.9 percent certainty that there had been abuse.

As reported in the DesMoines Register, the mother called the child-abuse hot line and began taking the child for weekly therapy sessions. The state's child-abuse specialist examined the child and found no signs of sexual abuse, though child sexual abuse experts say lascivious acts don't necessarily leave physical evidence.

May 15, 2007

Expert Witnesses Give Evidence in 10 Day Floyd Landis Hearing

Expert witnesses will be questioned by a three-member arbitration panel in the Floyd Landis hearing to determine if the cyclist used banned synthetic testosterone during the Tour de France. Performance Enhancing Drug Experts will answer questions from arbitrators and the opposing party. Cycling Experts are also expected to testfiy.

Landis could be banned for two years from cycling competitions and stripped of his title, something that's never happened in the Tour's 104-year history. CBS2.com expects that Landis' lawyers to argue that major mistakes were made in the tests that came up positive for synthetic testosterone.

May 14, 2007

Medical Malpractice Expert Opines in Wrongful Death Case

Naples gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Marks is named in a medical malpractice wrongful death suit involving Judith Dill’s death on April 25, 2003. Expert witness Dr. Ciaran P. Kelly testified that Judith Dill’s condition was caused by a post-operative ileus, which acts like a blockage because it prevents passage of intestinal contents. Gastroenterologist expert Dr. Kelly said Marks should never have ordered a bowel preparation, magnesium citrate, because Judith Dill hadn’t eaten in eight days.

Naples Daily News reports that Dr. Marks performed an endoscopy on April 9 and on April 12, the colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, Dill vomited violently, aspirating her vomit, which went into her lungs, later causing infection and death on April 25, 2003.

May 13, 2007

Expert Witness Testifies on Brain Scan

Peter Braunstein admits to his attack on a a former colleague at Fairchild Publications in October of 2005 but has pleaded not guilty, blaming his actions on undiagnosed schizophrenia. Dr. Monte Buchsbaum, expert witness and professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, said that images of the activity in Braunstein's brain were consistent with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

As reported at CourtTVnew.com, the alleged deficiency is crucial to the success of Braunstein's defense strategy, which requires that a jury find he was incapable of conscious decision-making the day of the attack. Braunstein's lawyers are expected to call another schizophrenia expert witness to corroborate Buchsbaum's claim by making a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.

May 12, 2007

Expert Witness Testimony Crucial in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trial

Vermont is the first state to go to trial over California's greenhouse gas limits. The 16-day trial ended after expert witnesses gave testimony regarding fuel economy and greenhouse gas emmissions. The state's automobile expert witness, K.G. Duleep, testified that car companies already have the technology to improve fuel economy sufficient to meet the 2016 standards.

Conversely, the automakers' fuel economy expert witness gave testimony that fuel economy could not be improved sufficiently by 2016 to meet California's greenhouse gas emissions limits. According to The Burlington Free Press, the judge allowed the two sides 30 days to file post-trial briefs with no indication on when he will issue a decision.

May 11, 2007

Jackson Police Officers Firearms Testing Below Standard

Despite it being a departmental requirement, Jackson Police Department records show that almost one in six officers did not receive a qualifying score at the department's firing range last year. Eighty of the 488 Jackson officers received no qualifying score because they didn't take the test.

Charles Key, a veteran of the Baltimore Police Department and an expert witness on police training, was shocked at how many Jackson police officers were not graded on their firearms proficiency. Mr. Key told The Clarion Ledger, "That's absurd. That's insane. You don't even know whether they can put holes in paper," he said. "That's so far below modern police standards that you must not even have state standards." Key also testifies as an expert witness in use-of-force lawsuits, and warns that not having an adequate training program endangers the public and leaves police departments open for costly lawsuits.

The Jackson Police Department has been sued in the past over training issues such as high-speed pursuit training and civil rights issues. Departments across the nation have had their training regimens picked apart in lawsuits over the use of deadly force.

May 10, 2007

DNA Mishandled in Chicago Mass Murder Case

Juan Luna and his alleged accomplice Jim Degorski are charged with killing seven people in the Palatine Brown's Chicken and Pasta murders 14 years ago. However, DNA expert Karl Reich told jurors DNA found at the crime scene can not be scientifically matched to Luna because of mishandling and inadequate testing. "You have to handle (the evidence) properly in order to get the right results ... in order to have faith in those results,” Reich said.

The DNA match was based on nine points, but Reich said a 13-point match would have been more thorough and that as many as 1 million people in the U.S. could match those same nine points. As reported in the Daily Herald, a bird expert tesified on Monday regarding chicken bones from the crime scene.

May 10, 2007

Improperly Subpoenaed Expert Witnesses Key to Dismissal of Case

Idaho District Judge James Michaud has dismissed lewd conduct and rape charges against defendant Leo Ray Hunsaker because of unnecessary delays in prosecuting the defendant, and issues with subpoenas of expert witnesses. The judge concluded that both the state and the defense had improperly subpoenaed DNA expert witnesses in the case.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that defendant Hunsaker, 39, was charged with engaging in lewd conduct with a girl in July 2002, when she was between the ages of 11 and 12. Hunsaker was also accused of raping the girl in 2004 and 2005, when she was 13- and 14-years old. Hunsaker pleaded not guilty to the charges.

As the case neared its sixth trial setting, both the prosecution and defense told the court key prosecution and defense witnesses would not be available to testify, which prompted the dismissal with prejudice.

May 8, 2007

Canadian Aviation Expert Praises Pilot for Landing on Road

According to aviation expert witness Robert Lemieux, Mark Tayfel, a pilot who crash-landed a twin-engine plane on a busy road after running out of fuel should be commended, not treated as a criminal. According to the Canadian Press, Tayfel is charged with criminal negligence causing death, four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous operation of an aircraft. Tayfel and five passengers survived with various injuries, while an elderly U.S. fisherman died several weeks later in hospital.

"Most people walked away from that accident. He did his job until the bitter end," said Lemieux.

May 4, 2007

Police Expert to Testify in Fire Department Sexual Harassment Case

Police procedure expert Penny Harrington, who was Portland's police chief for 18 months in the mid-1980s, will testify as an expert witness in a sexual harassment case involving a fire department. Four women have alleged that they were subjected to sexual comments from their supervisor. Harrington has reviewed depositions from the case and concluded the four women were treated differently because of their sex.

The defense has pointed out that Penny Harrington has never worked for a fire department and has never been called as an expert witness in a lawsuit involving a fire department, he said.

The case began on May 2, 2007 in Oregon's Clark County Superior Court, and is expected to last five weeks.

May 3, 2007

Expert Witnesses Expected to Testify in Penalty Phase

Psychology expert witness Mike Maynard will testify regarding the effect of convicted murderer Blaine Ross during the penalty phase of his trial. Blaine Ross was convicted in Bradenton, Florida, of killing his parents in 2004. Also scheduled to testify is Dr. Frank Wood, of Wake Forest University, an expert witness in schizophrenia.

The same jurors who convicted Ross of killing his parents are now deciding whether to recommend he get life in prison or the death penalty. The final decision rests with the judge.

May 2, 2007

Television Interview May Trip up Forensic Expert

Famed forensic expert witness Henry Lee's television interview could result in sanctions against Phil Spector's defense in Spector's murder trial. The Associated Press is reporting that prosecutors are now seeking sanctions, which could range from barring Lee's testimony, to advising the jury of a failure to disclose evidence in a timely manner.

Henry Lee, made famous as an expert witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, disclosed in an interview on Court TV an unusual theory that blood spatter could travel 72 inches. The interview came on the eve of a defense opening statement that utilized the same information. The prosecution states it was unaware of the defense theory until Lee was interviewed on Court TV.

The blood splatter distance is important is establishing how far Spector was from the victim at the time of her death. Prosecutors claim that the music producer shot actress Lana Clarkson, while the defense asserts she shot herself.

May 1, 2007

Expert Witness Teleconference

On May 22, 2007, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, LexisNexis/Mealey's will have an Expert Witness teleconference entitled "Finding the Right Expert." The one hour presentation will include the following topics:


What to know before you begin searching for an expert

- The importance of knowing the subject matter
- Knowing which questions to ask potential experts
- Pitfalls of not asking the right questions

How to gain an early advantage by tracking down the best expert

- Improving traditional means to find experts
- The value and limits of search engines to find experts
- How to use “the invisible web” to outflank you opponent in finding experts
- Accessing databases overlooked by the casual researcher

The speakers include David Dilenschneider, Esq. of LexisNexis and Jim Robinson, Esq. of the JurisPro Expert Witness Directory. To register, go to www.LexisNexis.com/conferences, or call 610-768-7800. The conference is $199 for one user, or $299 for an unlimited number of listeners per site.