In Voir Dire Of Scientific Opinion At Trial: Attacking The Expert Witness, Before He’s Declared An Expert., attorney Anthony Colleluori writes on what he calls “the lack of attack on prosecution experts” in criminal trials that involve IME expert witnesses and police personnel.
Expert witnesses in criminal trials are often members of police forces and Medical Examiner’s offices. The County or State spends a lot of money to train these folks and they go to classes and they attend seminars. They have been on the job (especially in the police detective’s case) They have been on the job…for many years and often personally know the judges they appear before. They also have been found to be experts in dozens of other cases before the one you’re trying so that their being named an expert now is a forgone conclusion. I have watched as they routinely are offered up as experts with nary a sound toward their preclusion as an expert. Why are we defense lawyers giving these people a free ride? I thought about this and decided that, there are a few reasons for the lack of attack on prosecution experts:
1. They almost always get named as experts so we don’t bother to try to keep their testimony out.
2. We often expect their testimony, and so we build it into our case.
3. We do not have the tools available to us to get the background and to do a proper Voir Dire.
As noted scientist, author, and attorney Gil Safir writes, we (defense lawyers) don’t have the necessary scientific background to argue the admissibility of the expert’s testimony and opinion.
Excerpted from Long Island (Criminal) Trial Law.