Law Enforcement Expert Witness Testimony Allowed In Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation.  The plaintiff hired a Law Enforcement Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Wroblewski v. Tyler et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Mississippi – October 22nd, 2018) involves an incident that occurred at a casino in Tunica Resorts, Mississippi.  The plaintiffs brought claims against the defendants for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation.  In the current motion the defendants seek to exclude the testimony of plaintiff’s Law Enforcement Expert Witness Robert C. Willis.

Discussion: The defendants argue that Mr. Willis’s opinions regarding defendants’ failure to use “verbal judo” or use nationally recognized standards should be stricken as there is no national requirement that such standards be complied by law enforcement.  The plaintiff states that Mr. Willis does not state that “verbal judo” is required, but that he instead relied on verbal judo as an example of techniques that are often taught in law enforcement.

The court opines that although Mr. Willis does not obviously say that verbal judo is required, he does state that it is the proper method by which to seek voluntary compliance.  The court continues by stating that the use of the word proper implies that verbal judo is a required technique that law enforcement must employ in certain situations.  Thus, the court will limit Mr. Willis’s opinion.  The court opines that Mr. Willis may use verbal judo as an example of communication tactics taught to law enforcement to assist in certain situations, he may not imply or state that verbal judo is the proper mechanism.  In addition, the court opines that Mr. Willis’s opinion regarding general communication standards, policies, and procedures in which law enforcement officers are trained may assist the trier of fact.

In addition, the plaintiff argues that Mr. Willis should be allowed to testify regarding general law enforcement policies and standards that the defendants violated.  The court opines that Mr. Willis should not be allowed to testify on Tunica county policies and whether defendants violated those policies.

The court also opines that Mr. Willis’s opinion goes beyond pointing to the jury to facts pertinent  to the reasonableness of force.  Instead, the court opines, Mr. Willis seems to make the jurors’ decisions for them.  Thus, certain parts of his opinion should not be allowed.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert opinion testimony of Robert C. Willis is granted in part and denied in part.