Psychology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Wrongful Conviction Case

Summary: Psychology Expert Witness allowed to testify in part, even though the defendant argued that an eyewitness identification expert is “generally excluded” because this type of testimony is within the understanding of the jury.

Facts: This case (Gillispie v. City of Mia. Twp – United States District Court – Southern District of Ohio – October 26, 2022) involves a wrongful conviction claim.  The plaintiff, Roger Dean Gillispie, alleges that his wrongful conviction was the result of police misconduct which included witness manipulation, destruction of evidence, and perjury.  In addition, the plaintiff alleges that forensic evidence was also discarded, leading to the extension of his wrongful conviction.  Gillispie hired Psychology Expert Witness Jennifer Dysart to provide expert witness testimony.  One of the defendants, Defendant Matthew Scott Moore, filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Moore says that Dr. Dysart’s expert witness testimony should be excluded because she is biased, does have credibility, and that her opinions are beyond her expertise.

First, the court stated that Dr. Dysart has advanced degrees in psychology and has published numerous papers on the subject of lineup identifications.  The court went to on state that if Moore would like, he can cross examine her during her testimony.

In addition, Moore stated that an eyewitness identification expert is “generally excluded” as this type of testimony are within the understanding of the jurors.  The court opined that it will allow Dr.  Dysart to provide an expert opinion on general principles of eyewitness identifications and possible contamination.  That said, any testimony about the specific aspects of the present case will not be allowed.

Also, the court decided that Dr. Dysart is excluded from testifying about the best practices of police policy about conducting a lineup as it has not been proven that Dr. Dysart studied these types of policies and procedures.  Last, the court stated that Dr. Dysart will be allowed to testify about a hypothetical that pertains to proven facts of the case, but will be excluded from testifying about the facts themselves.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Jennifer Dysart is granted in part and denied in part.