Emergency Medicine Expert Witness Testimony Upheld on Appeal

In USA v. Dean, 221 Fed. Appx. 849; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 6219, Dean appealed his US Dist Ct, Middle District of Georgia, convictions for armed bank robbery stating that the expert witness in the lower court should not have testified. Dean argued that the district court erred by allowing Dr. Cindy Parker, a board-certified emergency room physician, to testify as an emergency medicine expert witness and give opinions beyond the reasonable limits of her expertise. Dean also objected to Parker’s description of his behavior as “a little bit bizarre” during her examination of him and asserted claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

The appellate court ruled that Dean “could not carry his burden on the third prong of the plain error test — an effect on his substantial rights — given that several other government witnesses testified to the fact that Dean was not acting normally.” Under a plain error analysis, an appellant has the burden of persuading the court that: (1) there was an error; (2) the error was plain or obvious; and (3) the error materially prejudiced a substantial right. The higher court affrimed Dean’s convictions.