January 31, 2008

Distribution & Dealers Expert Witness Shares Top Ten Mistakes To Avoid With Distributor Agreements

In Avoiding the Top 10 Mistakes with Distributor Agreements, Glen Balzer, management and forensic consultant and expert witness in domestic and international marketing and sales, shares a checklist of ten common mistakes to avoid when drafting your next distributor agreement. Mistake #1 is entitled Too Much Too Fast.

Every new partnership between a distributor and a manufacturer is born in a period of bright optimism. Like marriage, there is a limit on the number of partnerships in which a supplier or distributor may engage. By aligning with a new distributor, a supplier is prohibited from singing an alternative distributor. By aligning with a new supplier, a distributor is prevented from immediately signing an additional supplier. When aligning with a new distributor, it is important to assign a territory that is not too large initially. If a distributor is proven in only small territory, it is not prudent to assign a large territory and hope for the best. A better policy would be to open a new distributor relationship in that distributor's proven territory and expand the territory gradually, after results in the smaller territory suggest that an expanded geography is judicious.

Glen Balzer, President of New Era Consulting, can be reached at glen@neweraconsulting.com.

January 30, 2008

Sheriff Will Cover Law Enforcement Expert Witness Fees in His Pro Bono Corruption Case

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona, charged with selling access to his office for cash, favors and gifts, has retained Jones Day on a pro bono basis. An allegedly corrupt sheriff who is making about $200,000 a year in retirement makes for an unusual pro bono client but colleagues say Jones Day Los Angeles attorney Brian A. Sun took the case because he considers it an example of government overreach.. Carona will pay the cost of law enforcement expert witnesses, his local attorney, and investigators. LATimes.com also reports:

...Sun offered to handle it pro bono as long as Carona resigned. Carona would continue to pay all costs of the defense, such as investigators and expert witnesses. Carona also agreed to pay Jones Day's legal fees up to the date of his resignation this month, and he continues to pay H. Dean Steward, a San Clemente attorney who has represented him for more than two years. "To suggest that he's getting a free legal ride is wholly inaccurate," Sun said. "Mike and his family will likely expend much of their net worth defending these charges."

January 29, 2008

Hospital Sues Their Attorney For Not Using Any Medical Billing Expert Witness

St. Luke's Magic Valley Regional Medical Center has sued a Washington attorney who represented the hospital between 2003 and 2006 saying that Tom Luciani did not adequately defend against claims of Medicare fraud and other record-keeping practices. When the hospital discovered Luciani had no plan to produce a medical billing expert witness to counter testimony from a plaintiff's witness, it hired its own counsel in 2006. Times-News Magic Valley.com also writes:

The complaint, filed Jan. 17 in U.S. District Court in Boise, claims that Tom Luciani intentionally breached his fiduciary duty and committed professional malpractice while representing the hospital and Farmers Insurance between July 2003 and early 2006. Luciani was brought on by the insurance company to represent the hospital during litigation that started in 2001 with a tort claim against the hospital by two former employees....

According to the hospital's most recent court filing, Luciani had a longstanding relationship with Farmers, which brought him in to replace another lawyer when the case moved to federal court. Following the desires of the insurance company, the complaint states, Luciani's strategy focused on protecting Farmers from any damages while leaving the hospital open to a possible $22 million judgment.


January 28, 2008

Audio Expert Witness Testifies Re: 1970 Black Panther Murder Case

Ed Poindexter, former head of Omaha's Black Panther chapter, is appealing his conviction for the 1970 bombing murder of Omaha Policeman Larry Minard. The Neraska Supreme Court will examine two key points that emerged from testimony in May 2007 in Douglas County District Court. Michael Richardson of OpEdNews.com writes:

Poindexter and his co-defendant, Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice), who both maintain their innocence, were convicted largely on the brokered testimony of 15 year-old Duane Peak, the confessed bomber, and dynamite allegedly found in Langa's basement. Peak implicated Poindexter and Langa in exchange for a lenient sentence as a juvenile instead of facing the electric chair. Contradictory police testimony about the dynamite and expert witness testimony that Peak did not make the emergency call that lured Minard to his death have opened a huge breach in the prosecution case against the Panther leader.

Langa raised the issue of the voice on the tape in a 1983 appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court. At that time, the Court noted there had been no "expert in voice analysis" examination of the tape and thus, "there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that Duane Peak did not make the call." However, in May 2007 Judge Bowie did hear expert witness testimony about the voice on the tape. Voice analyst Tom Owen testified that in his opinion the voice was not that of Peak thus undermining the credibility of the state's chief witness.


January 27, 2008

Seat Belts and Air Bags Expert Witness Testimony Crucial in GM Saturn Trial

Bill Muzzy's testimony is crucial in the civil trial against TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, the company that manufactures seatbelts for General Motors. The seat belt and air bags expert witness was cross examined for five hours in the 146th District Court in Killeen Texas. Muzzy maintains that a design flaw in a seatbelt led to the death of Jenny Singley. kdhnews.com also reports that the expert witness's credentials include his role as investigator of the restraint system in the fatal Dale Earnhardt crash and 5,500 experiments on human volunteers for the Navy and Air Force during the Cold War, which involved testing human tolerance to acceleration. "We have all the evidence in total to show the seatbelt didn't operate correctly," Muzzy said. "This is the most likely scenario."


January 26, 2008

Securities Expert Witnesses' Testimony Contributes to Broker Misconduct Awards - Part 2

Jonathan Evans and his co-counsel, Michael Edmiston, won in back-to-back arbitration hearings before Los Angeles based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panels. In both cases, the conduct of the brokers and their firms was so shocking that both arbitration panels awarded attorney's fees and securities expert witness fees along with sizable compensatory damages. Street Insider.com also reports that in the second hearing:

Evans represented a single-mother of two whose broker, Shapour Javadizadeh, of RJJ Pasadena Securities caused massive trading losses in her account with a high-risk option trading strategy. His client inherited the account from her father in 2002 and was using the money to pay her living expenses while rebuilding her life. In a hard-fought week of hearings, which saw numerous "attorney-only" conferences with the Arbitration Panel, including one which resulted in sanctions against the Respondents for their shenanigans in withholding documents, Evans prevailed for his client. The Panel awarded $151,000 in compensatory damages, attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and sanctions.

"During my cross-examination of the broker, I was amazed when he literally stood up before the Panel and admitted he did everything complained about in the Claim. It was a moment out of a courtroom drama, and his admission won the case for us," said Evans, reflecting back on the hearing. The FINRA case number is 06-04288 and the award may be found at http://www.finra.org.

January 25, 2008

Legal Ethics Expert Witnesses Opine on Detroit Mayor Case

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and chief of staff Christine Beatty were both charged with perjury after they lied under oath about a possible affair between them from 2001 to 2003. M.L. Elrick and David Ashenfelter of FreePress.com write:

The false testimony potentially exposes them to felony perjury charges, legal experts say. Kilpatrick, a lawyer, could also face discipline if the state Attorney Discipline Board finds he lied in court. The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern attorneys, say even nonpracticing lawyers in public office can be sanctioned for dishonesty. "Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens," the code states.

Lying under oath is one of the worst sins a lawyer can commit -- akin to stealing a client's money, legal ethics expert witnesses said..."It's literally the equivalent of the death penalty for a law license," said Michael Schwartz, former administrator of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, which investigates lawyers.

January 24, 2008

Securities Expert Witnesses' Testimony Contributes to Broker Misconduct Awards

Jonathan Evans and his co-counsel, Michael Edmiston, won in back-to-back arbitration hearings before Los Angeles based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panels. In both cases, the conduct of the brokers and their firms was so shocking that both arbitration panels awarded attorney's fees and securities expert witness fees along with sizable compensatory damages. Street Insider.com also reports that in the first hearing:

...Evans represented a senior citizen and his wife against A.G. Edwards and its broker, Anthony Russo. Mr. Russo, a broker who had a prior history of discipline including both a termination from a firm and a regulatory suspension for recommending unsuitable securities, positioned much of his client's retirement funds in high-risk equities just months before the technology bubble imploded. Despite calls from his clients, Mr. Russo did absolutely nothing to mitigate the devastating losses; rather he simply abandoned his clients to one of the worst bear markets in history...

On behalf of his clients, Evans recovered $84,000 in compensatory damages, $33,600 in attorney's fees, and $13,000 expert witness fees. Anthony Russo, despite his checkered history, and now this arbitration award, is the branch manager of the A.G. Edwards office in Oxnard, California. The FINRA case number is 05-05647 and the award may be found at http://www.finra.org.


January 23, 2008

Pathology Expert Witnesses' Testimony Sets Mother Free

Louise Reynolds of Kingston, Onatario was charged in June, 1997, with the stabbing death of her seven-year-old daughter and held in jail for almost two years. The charges were dropped when lawyers and expert witnesses became convinced that the child had been mauled by a pit bull. A U.S. pathology expert witness also backed the dog-bite theory.

Reynold's case is in the news again due to an inquiry into the pediatric forensic pathology system in Ontario. According to a confidential document released yesterday, the lead detective urged prosecutors to push hard for Reynold's conviction. Kingston police fought in court last year to keep the document out of the public eye. Tom Blackwell of The National Post also writes:

Even when the charge was withdrawn in the face of contradictory evidence from other experts, Kingston police continued to back the pathologist's original viewpoint. International experts who reviewed Dr. Smith's child-death investigations much later also said that he had wrongly diagnosed stab wounds, and concluded a pit bull had killed Sharon. The same experts found that the head of Ontario's pediatric forensic pathology unit had made serious errors in 20 of 45 suspicious child deaths he investigated between 1991 and 2001.


January 22, 2008

Psychology Expert Witness Testifies On Racial Stereotypes - Part 2

Sam Sommers, a Tufts University assistant professor of psychology, testified last week as an expert witness on whether juror racism tainted Christopher McCowen's first-degree murder conviction in 2006. A predominantly white jury found McCowen, who is black, guilty of the 2002 murder of Christa Worthington. Also convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary, McCowan was sentenced to state prison for life without parole. The psychology expert witness testified on how racial stereotypes can affect jury deliberations. Mary Ann Bragg of Cape Cod Times also reports:

...Sommers acknowledged most individuals are not "at the mercy of these stereotypes" and they have the capacity — if reminded about the seriousness of the decision — to put their stereotypes aside enough to serve as impartial jurors...In Nickerson's questioning of 12 jurors last week, the judge focused primarily on three alleged incidents of potential juror misconduct: whether juror Marlo George, who is white, used the term "black man" in a racist manner; whether juror Carol Cahill, who is also white, told fellow jurors she feared McCowen because he was a black man staring at her; and whether juror Eric Gomes, a Cape Verdean, told fellow jurors that blacks had a tendency toward violence.

...Sommers testified that choices of adjectives to describe a defendant such as "black" show what information a speaker thinks is relevant. Use of the adjective "black" would be warranted if the speaker needed to distinguish between two men, one black and one white, Sommers said. Otherwise, "it's an indication of the belief that race is relevant," the Tufts professor testified.

After the hearing, Sommers said that Marlo George's use of the term "black man" could be construed as racist. "That is certainly a stereotypical statement," he said.


January 21, 2008

How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witnesses #8

In How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness: A Medical Expert's Perspective, Dr. Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FAPA, writes that expert witness testimony depends on finding an appropriate match for your case. This excerpt deals with document preparation.

There are costs that are necessary:
Rather obvious is the review of the appropriate medical records. All records that are relevant to the expert’s testimony should be supplied. Sometimes, with key witnesses, this may mean all documents pertinent to the case. Whereas this may not be entirely ideal, pragmatism plays a role. The attorney should be careful whom (s)he chooses for that task, as doing this for five or six experts could easily make costs overwhelming. Generally, in each case, there may be one or two key witnesses. The others may be declared in a limited way and receive all relevant documents for the specific area of expertise only. They should carefully obtain only what is relevant information for the specific declaration. The easiest cost saver is a well constructed file of pertinent pages with indexes as well as a brief summary letter containing only facts, e.g. date of alleged incident, demographics, alleged claims and questions to be answered.

More to follow on assisting civil litigation attorneys with medical experts from Dr. Neppe, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA, www.brainvoyage.com.

January 20, 2008

Behavioral Science Expert Witness Opines in Gypsy's Murder Trial

Anne Sutherland, a professor of anthropology at UC Riverside, testified as an expert witness Friday during the penalty phase of Tony Ricky Yonko's murder trial. Yonko, 45, a Gypsy, was convicted last month of murder for the October 2002 beating death of Paul Ngo, 41, inside his Lake Elsinore home during a burglary. The behavioral science expert witness stated that a Gypsy being convicted of murder is uncommon because of the American Gypsy culture's distain for violence. Sutherland testified that in her extensive study of American Gypsies she had not come across a murder case involving a Gypsy defendant before this one. Tammy McCoy of PE.com also writes:

Sutherland was hired by Yonko's defense team and testified about the Gypsy culture and the role it played in Yonko's life. "They don't commit acts of violence. They consider that really prohibited," Sutherland said of her experience studying American Gypsies.

January 19, 2008

Psychology Expert Witness Testifies On Racial Stereotypes

Sam Sommers, a Tufts University assistant professor of psychology, testified yesterday as an expert witness on whether juror racism tainted Christopher McCowen's first-degree murder conviction in 2006. A predominantly white jury found McCowen, who is black, guilty of the 2002 murder of Christa Worthington. Also convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary, McCowan was sentenced to state prison for life without parole. The psychology expert witness testified on how racial stereotypes can affect jury deliberations. Mary Ann Bragg of Cape Cod Times also reports:

"Stereotypes are very pervasive in our society at large," Sommers said on the witness stand in the small, over-heated courtroom. One common stereotype is the association of black men with violent tendencies, Sommers said. And even for jurors who believe they're fair-minded, that type of stereotype can be triggered when a trial is "racially charged" by factors including media publicity and remarks in testimony, he said.

January 18, 2008

Language & Linguistics Expert Witnesses Testify At NLRB Hearing - Part 2

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owner of the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Hartford CT, has challenged the November vote by dealers to unionize. During the NLRB hearing, the tribe questioned why the ballots were printed only in English and why an election notice was only printed in one Chinese dialect. Both the tribe and the UAW called their own language and linguistics expert witnesses to testify. Heather Allen of The Day.com also reports that the UAW's expert witness, Guanhua Wang, an associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut said:

...the difference in the two languages really comes down to 2,000 to 3,000 written characters. Professor Wang said in traditional Chinese, there are probably 50,000 to 60,000 written characters and only a couple of thousand look differently. In a perfect world, the educator said, both the simplified and traditional translations would be included, but he said it is not always the case...

Richard Hankins, one of the three attorneys representing the tribe, noted that in the last five years, the NLRB regional office has held 24 union elections, and in only one — the Foxwoods election — were the ballots not printed in other languages. He added that more than a quarter of the eligible voters in the election — about 700 dealers — identify themselves as Asian or Pacific Islander, proving that “a significant percentage of those voters need written communication in Chinese.”

January 17, 2008

Language & Linguistics Expert Witnesses Testify At NLRB Hearing - Part 1

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owner of the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Hartford CT, has challenged the November vote by dealers to unionize. During the NLRB hearing, the tribe questioned why the ballots were printed only in English and why an election notice was only printed in one Chinese dialect. Both the tribe and the UAW called their own language and linguistics expert witnesses to testify. The Day.com reports that the tribe's expert witness, Alex Want argued that:

..many immigrants — including dealers at the casino — cannot read traditional written Chinese, but only “simplified written Chinese.” Tribal attorneys tried to establish that “traditionally written Chinese” is generally understood by highly educated members of the population, while UAW lawyers countered that it is now more common for people to have the ability to read both.

Wang, who operates a language translation service with is wife in Minnesota, said the spoken word in the two variations of Chinese is exactly the same, but the written characters are different, and that's what poses a problem in the posting of the election notice.

January 16, 2008

Hydrology and Groundwater Expert Witnesses Opine On Gas Station Spills

New York Plainview Water District and its hydrology and ground water expert witnesses did not convince a state judge that oil companies should pay for clean up as a result of gas stations spills. Newsday.com also writes:

The lawsuit had drawn interest because it could have required ExxonMobil, Shell Oil and Cumberland Farms to pay for future pollution, even though contamination from leaking underground storage tanks had yet to reach the district's wells. But Justice Kenneth A. Davis dismissed the case Wednesday in State Supreme Court, ruling that the district had failed to prove the spills, which contained the potentially carcinogenic fuel additive MTBE, posed a "real and imminent" threat to the wells. Davis' decision followed weeks of exhaustive testimony during the summer from expert witnesses on local hydrology and various computer models used to predict whether the contamination was likely to hit Plainview's wells. The judge agreed with the defendants' argument that MTBE did not threaten the wells, a conclusion shared by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

January 14, 2008

How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witnesses #7

In How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness: A Medical Expert's Perspective, Dr. Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FAPA, writes that expert witness testimony depends on finding an appropriate match for your case. This excerpt deals with balanced opinions.

The medical expert’s perception of the strengths and weaknesses of a case must be balanced and not rejected because his / her opinion disagrees with that of the retaining attorney’s. The expert’s opinions may involve multiple different areas of the case. For example, the expert may describe significant brain damage and this may not be something the defense attorney may want to hear; on the other hand, he may describe the profound limitations of ascribing causality to the injury that is being alleged. Alternatively, his / her perception of brain damage may actually be less than that of an opposition expert so (s)he may still be so declared!

More to follow on assisting civil litigation attorneys with medical experts from Dr. Neppe, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA, www.brainvoyage.com.

January 13, 2008

Security Expert Witness Sides With Dodgers

Expert witness James P. Graham testified for the defense in Maria Parra Helenius' lawsuit against the Dodgers and her assailant. Helenius says she was left legally blind from a punch in the right eye by Denis Ordaz and that Ordaz should have been ejected earlier by the Dodgers security team. The security expert witness supervised various bicentennial events in 1776 and opined that "Miss Helenius violated the No. 1 personal safety rule: A person should always flee from an aggressive person and not confront them unless trapped." KNBC.com also reports:

When Helenius complained to two uniformed Los Angeles police officers supplementing the Dodger security team that day about Ordaz's unruly behavior, they did the right thing by relocating Ordaz's group instead of detaining or ejecting her, Graham said.

"It is my opinion that the L.A. Dodgers took reasonable, professional, thorough and effective security precautions," Graham said. "They had no right to detain (Ordaz) because she had not committed a crime."


January 12, 2008

Class Action Expert Witnesses Testify in Wal-Mart Case - Part 2

Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court will hear an appeal of a massive class-action lawsuit that alleges Wal-Mart Stores Inc. deprived hourly employees of their earned wages and rest and meal breaks. Wal-Mart employees’ attorney, Robert Bonsignore, has 35 cases pending against Wal-Mart in other states. Wal-Mart employees have already won a $167 million judgment in California and a $151 million judgment in Pennsylvania. The class action expert witness for the employees says that Wal-Mart employees were deprived of compensation for over 10 million missed rest breaks and over 21,000 incidents of one-minute clock-outs. Donna Goodison of
Boston Herald.com also writes:

But a Wal-Mart spokesperson said a “great majority” of courts have ruled that wage-and-hour cases aren’t suited for class-action status because “every individual’s circumstances are unique. It is our policy to pay every associate for every hour worked, and any manager who violates that policy is subject to discipline, up to and including termination,” the spokesperson said. “The company has very clear policies on meal and rest breaks.”

January 11, 2008

Class Action Expert Witnesses Testify in Wal-Mart Case - Part 1

Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court will hear an appeal of a massive class-action lawsuit that alleges Wal-Mart Stores Inc. deprived hourly employees of their earned wages and rest and meal breaks. Wal-Mart employees’ attorney, Robert Bonsignore, has 35 cases pending against Wal-Mart in other states. Wal-Mart employees have already won a $167 million judgment in California and a $151 million judgment in Pennsylvania. Donna Goodison of
Boston Herald.com also writes:

Using Wal-Mart’s paper and electronic payroll records, Bonsignore’s class action expert witness found that the Wal-Mart employees allegedly were deprived of wages for 10.1 million missed rest breaks from 1995 to 2005. The expert witness also found 21,383 alleged incidents of one-minute clock-outs where employees went uncompensated and that Wal-Mart allegedly realized $423,010 in free labor from employees whose work was not recorded by the system.

Wal-Mart also allegedly inserted 13,572 unpaid meal periods into employees’ records from 2001 to 2005, court documents state. A separate, earlier Superior Court ruling prevented employees from suing for missed meal breaks. “As a result of its willful misconduct, Wal-Mart’s ill-gotten gains exceeded $25,000,000,” court documents state.


January 10, 2008

Computer Forensic Expert Witness Regulation

South Carolina, along with other states, is tightening regulations that must be met in order for a computer forensics expert witness to testify in court. A South Carolina bill would only allow computer forensic expert witnesses to testify in court if they are employed by businesses that primarily engage in legal work or divorce cases. This would result in the experts needing a PI license if they wish to testify in court. Joel Hruska of Ars Technica.com also writes:

As Baseline Magazine reports, there's a significant amount of controversy over whether such legislation will improve the quality of digital forensic testimony or damage it. The South Carolina law is meant to ensure that the expert testimony offered by computer forensic investigators actually is expert testimony. Ensuring that such testimony meets a certain standard of quality is in both the state's and the accused's best interest.

Critics, however, worry that the new South Carolina legislation will put the title of computer forensic expert in the hands of PIs across the state who are utterly unequipped to handle real computer forensics. Such an outcome would lower the quality of digital forensic analysis available to both the state and to defendants; it could potentially affect trial outcome.

South Carolina seems to have a good instinct here, even if the state's PI license requirement doesn't jive with the realities of what's needed to ensure good expert testimony. The field of computer forensics is quite new, and the methods for assessing it are even more so. Ultimately, it may take a series of legislative initiatives before the various states considering such laws find a proper balance.


January 9, 2008

Optimizing Your Engineering Expert Witness's Testimony #7

In Get the Most From Engineering Experts, Christopher L. Brinkley writes on how thorough preparation of engineering expert witnesses is the key to winning your case. In this excerpt Brinkley discusses the reliability of the expert witness's work.

You also must prepare engineering experts to address the jurisdiction's substantive law with respect to the existence of a defect. These standards vary widely from state to state. For example, in West Virginia, a product is defective if it is not reasonably safe for its intended use, giving the general state of the art at the time the product was made. But in Georgia, a defect is evaluted by balancing the risk inherent in the product against its utility, taking into consideration a wide range of factors.

More to follow...Excerpted from Trial Magazine, November 2007

January 8, 2008

Optimizing Your Engineering Expert Witness's Testimony #6

In Get the Most From Engineering Experts, Christopher L. Brinkley writes on how thorough preparation of engineering expert witnesses is the key to winning your case. In this excerpt Brinkley discusses the reliability of the expert witness's work.

One other aspect of the reliability analysis that frequently arises relates to the concept of engineering judgment. Engineers routinely draw conclusions from their understanding to general principles of engineering and prior experience in similar circumstances. For example, extrapolation through engineering judgment is employed by manufacturers to reduce the inefficiency and economic burdens associated with testing every conceivable permutation of a design. Where the basis for an expert's application of engineering judgment has been well articulated, it is considered an acceptable methodology.

More to follow...Excerpted from Trial Magazine, November 2007

January 7, 2008

Document Examination Expert Witness Testimony Questioned in Weapons Trial

One of the four handwriting expert witnesses used to examine the authenticity of documents relating to President Bush’s service with the Air National Guard has surfaced in the Javier Cortez weapons trial. U.S. attorneys filed a motion in the Eastern District of Texas to compel Cortez to provide prosecutors with “acceptable handwriting samples.” Cortez’s attorney, Don Bailey of Sherman, said there were “known problems” with Linda James, the document examination expert witness who tested the signature on the ATF form that Cortez allegedly forged to buy a weapon used in the Truett Street murders in McKinney. Danny Gallagher of the McKinney Courier Gazette also reports:

Cortez faces four federal charges which include two counts of possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and one count of making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer for allegedly forging his brother Raul Cortez’s name on an ATF form.

The Cortez brothers and Eddie Williams were arrested in July 2007 in connection with the March 12, 2004, murders of Rosa Barbosa, Mark Barbosa, Austin York and Matthew Self at Rosa Barbosa’s home on Truett Street.

January 6, 2008

Fire Expert Witnesses Testify In Death Penalty Case Against Mother of Two

Lisa Greene, 42, of Midland, NC, could face the death penalty for the death of her two children, Daniel Macemore, 10, and Addison Macemore, 8, in a January 2006 mobile home fire. Greene claims that a candle overturned in her child's room but Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Van Tuley, the prosecution’s fire expert witness, testified that burn patterns and tests taken from Lisa Greene’s home disprove her explanation of the fire. Prosecution witnesses told of a mother who didn’t care about her children and wanted out of the responsibility of parenthood. Josh Lanier of IndependentTribune.com also reports that John Lentini, the defense attorneys' arson expert witness will take the stand Monday.

January 5, 2008

Epidemiology Expert Witness Disagrees With Chemical Company Findings

Five years ago Rohm & Haas, a chemical company in Montgomery County, PA, alerted employees about a mysterious series of brain cancers. Now Rohm & Haas says its latest study has turned up no problems. But an epidemiology expert witness from Columbia University has concluded that even 12 brain cancer deaths at the Spring House research center "significantly exceeds the expected number." The expected number is 3.45 cases per 100,000 people, expert witness Richard Neugebauer wrote in his analysis. Philly.com also reports:

He estimated that brain cancer deaths among Spring House workers were at least three times more than expected, and possibly eight times more, depending on the size of the work force.

"Their own panel is saying 'We don't think you got all the deaths; something doesn't look right,' " Freiwald said, referring to the critique by the three outside experts. "Epidemiology is a science where it's very easy to turn it into a shell game."

Proving the existence of a "cancer cluster" is notoriously difficult. Even when the number of cases is high enough to be what scientists consider "statistically significant" - and it rarely is - linking it to a chemical, building material, or other exposure is like nailing jello.

January 4, 2008

How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witnesses #6

In How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness: A Medical Expert's Perspective, Dr. Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FAPA, writes that expert witness testimony depends on finding an appropriate match for your case. This excerpt deals with commitment to an expert.

You also want to ensure that the expert is as adequately prepared as possible for the specific tasks (s)he is assigned to do. This may be testamentary, but very often it is consultative, or writing a declaration, report or letter. This may require adequate educating on the legal aspects of the case. This can sometimes be time consuming particularly if the expert is not experienced or specifically forensically trained. This can easily be more costly than retaining a more expensive, more experienced and knowledgeable expert.

It is necessary at the appropriate time to declare the expert carefully. The exact wording should be discussed carefully with the expert consultant prior to such submissions as it may effect all his / her future testimony. Clearly, adverse opinions on certain issues may limit the expert as to being declared only in the area where (s)he can address the strengths of the case
not its weaknesses.

More to follow on assisting civil litigation attorneys with medical experts from Dr. Neppe, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA, www.brainvoyage.com.

January 3, 2008

How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness #5

In How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness: A Medical Expert's Perspective, Dr. Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FAPA, writes that expert witness testimony depends on finding an appropriate match for your case. This excerpt deals with commitment to an expert.

You have retained your expert: The commitment to an expert is made more permanent once the expert is declared or the definite decision is made to declare him / her at an appropriate later time (e.g. when experts need to be made public). You have decided you will proceed with that expert and you need to utilize as many techniques as possible to optimize having that expert.

Clearly, one wants to save the expert time, because that will save the attorney money. But do not make the error of trying a short cut with your key expert. Always ensure (s)he is provided with everything that could possibly be deemed necessary to ensure an adequate educated well-thought out opinion that the other side cannot negate due to not disclosing everything necessary.

More to follow on assisting civil litigation attorneys with medical experts from Dr. Neppe, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA, www.brainvoyage.com.

January 2, 2008

Law & Legal Expert Witness Opines On Legal Status of Osama bin Laden’s Captured Driver - Part 3

UMass Dartmouth Professor Brian Glyn Williams was called as a law and legal expert witness in the judicial proceedings to determine the legal status of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan. Hamdan is being held as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant," which denies him Geneva Convention rights as prisoner of war. Glyn's role as an expert witness was to shed light on the military command structure of the Taliban and Al Qaida armies. SouthCoastToday.com also reports:

...Capt. Allred denied Mr. Hamdan's appeal, in essence ruling that he was neither a member of a full-fledged army such as Dr. Williams described on the stand nor a low-level employee somewhere in the rear.

"In addition, these rulings will not only now provide a basis for Hamdan to appeal any future conviction by the commission, but may also have provided a windfall for other detainees (there are 330 at Guantanamo, in Dr. Williams' estimate).

"Other detainees brought to trial before the commission in the future will now also be able to assert entitlement to POW status. Accordingly, for the first time since the United States began detaining "enemy combatants," their status, prior to being tried, will turn on a factual analysis performed by a judicial officer, and not on conclusive determinations made by politicians," Mr. Corn (assistant professor of law at South Texas College and a retired Army lieutenant colonel)
wrote.


Excerpted from UMD professor testifies as expert witness at trial of bin Laden's driver, Steve Urbon, Standard-Times senior correspondent, December 30, 2007.

January 2, 2008

Hospitality Expert Witness On ADR Part 2

In Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Hospitality Industry hospitality expert witness Maurice Robinson writes that the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) has facilitated customized dispute resolution training programs to industry experts.

This exercise has resulted in a panel of highly experienced and qualified arbitrators and mediators with extensive experience in dealing with hospitality industry issues – the best of both worlds. Thus, the industry now has a supply of industry experts, the vast majority of them being current or former ISHC members with 10 to 40 years of industry experience – who have been trained and certified as commercial arbitrators, mediators and Issue Review Board members, and who are ready to support the resolution of disputes, from the simplest to the most complex.

A wide variety of complex business and real estate disputes in the hospitality industry are
now arbitrated, ranging from the parties’ respective rights and obligations under
management contracts and franchise agreements to disputes concerning capital
improvements, annual budgets and the calculation of incentive and other fees, to disputes
concerning allocation of chain-wide costs, and even the composition of competitive sets.


Mr. Robinson has 30 years experience in the hotel and real estate industry business and is President of Maurice Robinson & Associates LLC.

January 1, 2008

Law & Legal Expert Witness Opines On Legal Status of Osama bin Laden’s Captured Driver - Part 2

UMass Dartmouth Professor Brian Glyn Williams was called as a law and legal expert witness in the judicial proceedings to determine the legal status of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan. Hamdan is being held as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant," which denies him Geneva Convention rights as prisoner of war. Glyn's role as an expert witness was to shed light on the military command structure of the Taliban and Al Qaida armies. SouthCoastToday.com also reports:

The bottom line for him (Williams) is that the Taliban and Al Qaida forces, far from being a loose collection of terrorists, was and is a trained fighting force with old but serviceable weapons, with insignias, uniforms and a command structure. In short, the kinds of things that would qualify it as an army for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions. It was not just conjecture on his part; Dr. Williams has traveled repeatedly to Afghanistan and other parts of the region, and has interviewed captured Al Qaida and Taliban fighters to learn about their command structure, among other things.

Mr. Hamdan, in his view, was far from full-fledged Al Qaida but rather a low-level recruit from Yemen without the education or wealthy background to rise into the elite ranks of those such as Osama bin Laden who masterminded the 911 attacks. If anything, he was part of the army that fought off the Soviets in Afghanistan and has now turned to fighting the U.S. and its allies.

Beyond that, said Dr. Williams, the fighters on the ground in Afghanistan are distinct from those elite "sleeper cells" that carried out the attacks in 2001, what Dr. Williams calls "white-collar terrorists."


Excerpted from UMD professor testifies as expert witness at trial of bin Laden's driver, Steve Urbon, Standard-Times senior correspondent, December 30, 2007.