Law Enforcement Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Civil Rights Litigation

Summary: Law Enforcement Expert Witness testimony allowed despite the plaintiff’s argument that his opinions are biased and that the defendants are lying, which does not support the facts of the case.

Facts:  This case (Wood v. City of San Antonio et al – United States District Court – Western District of Texas – April 25th, 2022) involves a claim under section 1983 related to damages following the plaintiff’s arrest outside of her friend’s domicile in February 2019.  Wood filed suit against numerous defendants, including the City of San Antonio and a number of police officers who were called to the scene.  Wood alleges that the defendants violated her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure as well as violation of her right to due process.  To assist in their case, the defendants hired Law Enforcement Expert Witness Craig Miller to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The court first acknowledges that it cannot tell which of Miller’s opinions Woods would like to challenge. The court notes that Wood does not specifically identify any of Miller’s opinions in her motion and instead relies on generalizations of Miller’s report.

First, Wood argues that Miller is not qualified to offer an opinion in this case as he is not qualified to comment on the law.  The court, however, explains that Miller was not hired to provide expert opinions about the law.  To be sure, the court opines that Miller is qualified to provide an expert opinion in law enforcement and police practices.  The court also states that Miller is a retired chief of police for the Dallas Independent School District and has a thirty year career in law enforcement.  In addition, Miller has been deemed qualified to testify as an expert in police practices and procedure in other litigation.

Also, Wood argues that Miller’s opinions do not support the facts in this case, stating that he is biased, does not discuss the plaintiff’s most severe allegations, and that the defendant’s are lying.  The court opines that these arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility and that they should be addressed during cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Craig Miller is denied.