What qualifies a witness as an expert?
A witness is qualified to be an expert by the knowledge, education, experience, skills and training they possess. The governance of expert witnesses comes from the hands of federal and state rules. This governance depends on two where the case is placed; whether in the state court or in the federal court. A qualified expert witness is defined under the federal rule of evidence (n.d) as a person who possesses the knowledge, education, experience, skills, and training in a specific field. The state court also qualifies an expert witness under these qualifications. According to rule 702 an expert witness is allowed to make testimony against a case by giving a professional opinion based on sufficient facts and data. According to the US department of justice (n.d), witnesses are categorized into three; a lay witness, a character witness, and an expert witness.
An expert witness is defined as someone with education about a specific field and makes testimony with respect to their area of specialization only. A lay witness is someone who watches the occurrence of a certain event and gives testimony with respect to what they say. A character witness is a person who has information about the victim, defendant, and other people involved in the case, although they never watched the crime take place. They testify by giving the personality details of the victim or the defendant. Among the people commonly used as character witnesses in a case are the family members, friends, and neighbors to the victim or the defendant.
However, the three witnesses exhibit one major difference: for an expert witness, the testimony statement is based purely on the level of knowledge they have acquired, the research they have conducted, and the career training they have undertaken (Legal information institute n.d). Rule 72 states that an expert witness must possess knowledge, skills, and training to testify during a trial.
Under what conditions may an expert witness testify in a court of law?
Expert witnesses are governed by four evidence rules as stated under rules 702-706 (Legal information institute n.d). According to rule 702 governs the testimony of an expert witness (Legal information institute n.d). It states that an expert witness must have education, knowledge, skills, experience, and training and testify with respect to their professional or specialized opinions. An expert witness can also testify otherwise if their professional knowledge can help the fact trier understand the evidence and facts available to the case (Legal information institute n.d). If there are sufficient facts to support the testimony, if the expert testifies from principles and methods that are reliable, and if the expert witness has applied the reliable principles and methods when giving facts to the case
federal rules 702-705 provide guidelines that expert witnesses should follow when making their testimonies (Legal information institute n.d). These guidelines state that testimony by an expert witness must contain sufficient data and facts to the case. The testimony must be derived from principles and methods that that provides truth and reliability, and the expert must apply these principles and methods to make people rely on the available facts to the case.
Describe the requirement for expert witness testimony
The requirement for expert witness testimony is outlined in rules 702-705 of the federal rules of evidence outlines the requirement for expert witness (Legal information institute n.d). Rule 702 outlines the expertise areas that witnesses are supposed to have. These areas are knowledge, skills, education and training, and experience. The duty of the court to the case is to serve as a gatekeeper to professional opinions made by expertise witnesses as evidence. Any motion made by the opposing counsel to exclude an expert witness in the case is called the Daubert challenge (Rufus et al., 2015). Daubert challenge is conducted before the trial judge for the judge to ascertain the qualification of the expert witness and determine whether the professional opinions made by the expert witness are from a reliable fact and methodology or from mere conjecture or speculation (Rufus et al., 2015) this is done in the absence of the jury. Rule 703 of the federal rule of evidence outlines guidelines against disclosing information to the jury. Witness information is used for the formation of professional opinions and not for any substantive purpose. Under rule 704, an expert witness can testify to difficult cases by providing more facts and data for the case to be understood well. Under rule 705, expert witness can provide their professional opinion without using initial facts. However, they should understand that their opinion will be cross-examined (Rufus et al., 2015)
US Department of Justice (n.d). Discovery. https://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/discovery
Rufus, R. J., Miller, L. S., & Hahn, W. (2015) Forensic Accounting Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA Pearson Daubert Standard. (n.d.). https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/daubert_standard
Federal Rules of Evidence (2015). https://web.archive.org/web/20180831001530/http://federalevidence.com/rules-ofevidence
The Frye Standard and Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. https://forensiclaw.uslegal.com/litigation-history-of-forensic-evidence/thefrye-standard-and-rule-702-of-the-federal-rules-of-evidence/
Expert Witness Requirements. (2020). https://seak.com/blog/expertwitness/expert-witness-requirements/
FindLaw (n.d). Who Qualifies as an Expert Witness? https://www.findlaw.com/legalblogs/law-and-life/who-qualifies-as-an-expert-witness/
Legal information institute. (n.d). Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses. https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_702