Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

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edmoser
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Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby edmoser » Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:54 pm

This is driving me crazy trying to find an answer... does anybody know of a case where a plaintiff or defendant testified as an expert witness in their own case?

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HugerThanSoup
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby HugerThanSoup » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:32 pm

There's no reason, in theory, why they couldn't. If the defendant could demonstrate that they had sufficient knowledge, training, or expertise in a particular area - automotive repair, for example - then they could give opinion testimony on the subject and they could base that opinion upon otherwise inadmissible evidence. Plaintiffs and defendants, in the civil context particularly, could quite commonly be qualified as experts.

As a practical matter, there's no reason to do this, though. The P/D is obviously biased. The whole point of expert testimony is to provide the jury with "objective, unbiased scientific/technical information." This goal would be lost if it was the P/D giving the testimony.

Why do you ask?

thelucidist
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby thelucidist » Tue May 03, 2011 3:36 am

What about the clear conflict of interest? No defendant is going to disagree with themselves ~ especially if it'll cost them actual money...

Plus, isn't it a tad prejudicial? I mean all of a sudden, I'm not suing a negligent social worker ~ I'm suing an expert on the very basis of the suit. If they get called an expert in court ~ especially in front of a jury ~ doesn't that come too close to presuming them more knowledgeable than me? Yikes! They're halfway to making me an idiot then, aren't they?

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Ty Webb
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby Ty Webb » Tue May 03, 2011 4:30 am

thelucidist wrote:What about the clear conflict of interest? No defendant is going to disagree with themselves ~ especially if it'll cost them actual money...

Plus, isn't it a tad prejudicial? I mean all of a sudden, I'm not suing a negligent social worker ~ I'm suing an expert on the very basis of the suit. If they get called an expert in court ~ especially in front of a jury ~ doesn't that come too close to presuming them more knowledgeable than me? Yikes! They're halfway to making me an idiot then, aren't they?


Can't see why a defendant would even want this in *most* tort cases, either. The expert label might saddle them with an additional duty or a heightened standard of care.

I have no idea about the procedural question of whether they "can".

BeautifulSW
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby BeautifulSW » Tue May 03, 2011 11:08 am

Depends on what you mean by an "expert". The real test of an expert witness is whether the jury is allowed to hear him express an opinion based on specialized knowledge rather than merely relate a fact that he perceived through one of his senses. Fact witnesses' opinions are irrelevant as I suppose you know.

One common result is that a plaintiff in a civil suit over his own property for loss or damage is entitled to give his opinion as to the property's market value. Another common example that maybe fits your thinking better arises in medical malpractice suits. A surgeon, for instance, is accused of negligence for failure to exercise the minimum standard of care. He will deny breaching this duty, of course, but in so doing he is giving expert opinion testimony.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 03, 2011 11:12 am

The OP's question, however, seems to be whether or not the surgeon could testify in his own malpractice trial as an expert witness & then offer an opinion as to whether or not he breached a standard duty of care.

Renzo
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby Renzo » Tue May 03, 2011 11:36 am

Soliciting legal advice on the internet is a bad idea.
Last edited by Renzo on Sat May 07, 2011 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 03, 2011 11:56 am

The answer may vary by jurisdiction. An issue to consider is whether or not expert witnesses must be independent of any party to the action. Also, expert witness evidence usually requires disclosure during discovery.

There are courts which have ruled that an interested party cannot be an expert witness.
But, what if the area of expertise is new & one of the two only experts in the nation is a party to the action ? Does the defendant have a right to present an expert witness in that situation ?

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ggocat
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby ggocat » Tue May 03, 2011 1:38 pm

I've never seen a case prohibiting it.

Generally the personal/financial interest of a witness goes to credibility (which the fact finder can decipher), not competency (which is a question for the court).

CanadianWolf
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 03, 2011 2:18 pm

There are several cases prohibiting it. Check somewhat recent New Jersey appellate decisions, for example. Case prohibited doctors from same practice group testifying as expert witnesses. Some jurisdictions may address this by statute.

Carchidi vs. Lavicoli, 2010 NJ Super. LEXIS 46, decided March 24, 2010.

thelucidist
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby thelucidist » Tue May 03, 2011 9:19 pm

You guys are awesome! That last back and forth was 8 hours research ~ handled!

I am currently suing Shasta County (California) pro se. All 7 defendants appeared on the witness list. In fact they were the only ones on it...

Which brings me back to you, Renzo ~ care to elaborate on the scores of reasons not to do it?

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YourCaptain
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby YourCaptain » Fri May 06, 2011 7:43 pm

thelucidist wrote:You guys are awesome! That last back and forth was 8 hours research ~ handled!

I am currently suing Shasta County (California) pro se. All 7 defendants appeared on the witness list. In fact they were the only ones on it...

Which brings me back to you, Renzo ~ care to elaborate on the scores of reasons not to do it?


LOL

BeenDidThat
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri May 06, 2011 7:46 pm

Unauthorized practice of law FTW

seatown12
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby seatown12 » Fri May 06, 2011 9:57 pm

BeenDidThat wrote:Unauthorized practice of law FTW

I don't think that phrase means what you think it means.

thelucidist
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby thelucidist » Fri May 06, 2011 11:27 pm

seatown12 wrote:
BeenDidThat wrote:Unauthorized practice of law FTW

I don't think that phrase means what you think it means.


Whew! Glad to hear that. (Didn't think I'd been around long enough to pi*s anybody off...)

Alright then, I'll bite. What does it mean?

thelucidist
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby thelucidist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:17 am

CanadianWolf wrote:There are several cases prohibiting it. Check somewhat recent New Jersey appellate decisions, for example. Case prohibited doctors from same practice group testifying as expert witnesses. Some jurisdictions may address this by statute.

Carchidi vs. Lavicoli, 2010 NJ Super. LEXIS 46, decided March 24, 2010.


Bless your heart, Mr. Wolf ~ but the case you cite offers one party tapping the other party's peeps as experts... My issue is having defendants factually or lawfully considered experts in open court. I have already fought my way out of a very deep, small town credibility pit.

If they are going for it, aren't they then subject to a whole different level and scope of grilling by me? And since they have none, wouldn't this be a great forum in which to rip and tear their "credibility"? (Honestly, I have them lying over and over again on the record.)

Worse comes to worst, I want ways to show this move as the stunt it is ~ or see it b-a-c-k-f-i-r-e on them, big and loud. That's why I was asking Renzo to elaborate on his statement that there are "scores of reasons you would never want to do it in practice"...

I need all the help I can get!

Thank you , everyone, for anything you might add or offer on this challenging opportunity ...

seatown12
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby seatown12 » Sat May 07, 2011 9:52 am

This thread should be all the evidence you need to decide to hire an actual attorney. There are levels of complexity here you don't understand and no one can explain to you on an internet forum. You need to either hire an attorney or just drop the suit if you don't think it's worth it.

IBTL

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nygrrrl
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Re: Can a plaintiff/defendant testify as an expert witness?

Postby nygrrrl » Sat May 07, 2011 1:17 pm

yeah, um, NO.
This is not a place to give or get legal advice.
Hire a lawyer.
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