Tonight, CNN is airing a program Reasonable Doubt that criticizes many forensic “experts” and labs across country. That made me think. What makes someone a firearms expert? What qualifications do courts require? What education or experience must the firearm expert have?
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February 26, 2006, 11:54 PM
Like anything else -
education, experience, training, and credibility.
February 26, 2006, 11:57 PM
100 posts on THR?
February 27, 2006, 12:44 AM
I would suspect there are no specific qualifications, considering how vague the term "firearms expert" is.
Even for much more specific terms, the courts are generally very liberal at what is considered a liberal. For example, in Georgia, anyboy who has an MD degree can testify as an expert in any medical malpractice case. A general practice doctor could for example testify as an expert witness in a Neurosurgical case, for example.
February 27, 2006, 12:55 AM
So anyone could be considered a firearms "expert"? An expert is really just someone who know a little bit more on a subject then the avenge person, which may not be much.
February 27, 2006, 01:00 AM
Basically, yes... but having some kind of credentials would be helpful in looking legitimate to the jury.
There are experts out there on everything, and not every expert is in a field where there is any kind of documentable credentialling process.
February 27, 2006, 01:25 AM
Speaking from experience, you have to be "expert" enough to convince a jury that you know what you're talking about, while the "expert" on the other side doesn't. :evil:
Usually both sides have an expert. Each will testify, and both will be cross-examined. Given the circumstances, BS can only go so far... :uhoh:
February 27, 2006, 01:30 AM
BS can go a long, long way.
Look at the Dow Corning silicone breast implant lawsuit if you think otherwise.
February 27, 2006, 01:41 AM
BS can go a long, long way. Look at the Dow Corning silicone breast implant lawsuit if you think otherwise.
Goes to show that both sides have well qualified experts... :evil: :)
February 27, 2006, 02:12 AM
Typical expert witnesses in cases involving firearms are usually either comparative micography people or toolmark examiners, and somewhat less often experts in determining muzzle to target distance, or trace metal/gunshot residue detection. Then there are the people who restore obliterated serial numbers. The ones you see billed as plain old "firearms experts" are typically mechanical engineers who probably but not necessarily have spent time designing and producing for a manufacturer.
February 27, 2006, 02:32 AM
I was on jury Duty a while ago and the State had a guy who was supposedly an "expert" on automotive issues, It was clear in the Jury room several of us felt we knew way more than the "expert." Several things presented as "fact" had no basis in any sense of reality. The expert "said there was no way the car could not have leapt forward when she turned the key to turn on the radio, as it was "law" that all cars have a interlock between clutch, brake and key. My truck and my BMW have no such interlock. and it is not uncommon for such switches to become "sticky" with use and not always function correctly. The car in question was a 80's GM and on cross the defense did not question this. We asked for and received permission to call a GM garage and ask two techs who both said such interlocks were not even installed till five years after the manufacture date of the car in question.
We decided that it was very possible that a younger girl would want to listen to the radio and get scared when she tried to turn it on and the car jumped forward. We ruled it an accident and not a intential act.
All this goes to show that becareful when you claim to be an expert, it is easy to get your legs cut off at the knees.
February 27, 2006, 04:09 AM
For example, in Georgia, anyboy who has an MD degree can testify as an expert in any medical malpractice case. A general practice doctor could for example testify as an expert witness in a Neurosurgical case, for example.
I’m sorry, but you are wrong. Here’s a fragment of the 05 SB 3/HCSFA. The law is very specific on the issue. Neurosurgeon cannot be an expert on the action of a gynecologist.
(1) Was licensed by an appropriate regulatory agency to practice his or her profession in the state in which such expert was practicing or teaching in the profession at such time; and
(2) In the case of a medical malpractice action, had actual professional knowledge and experience in the area of practice or specialty in which the opinion is to be given as the result of having been regularly engaged in:
(A) The active practice of such area of specialty of his or her profession for at least three of the last five years, with sufficient frequency to establish an appropriate level of knowledge, as determined by the judge, in performing the procedure, diagnosing the condition, or rendering the treatment which is alleged to have been performed or rendered negligently by the defendant whose conduct is at issue; or
(B) The teaching of his or her profession for at least three of the last five years as an employed member of the faculty of an educational institution accredited in the teaching of such profession, with sufficient frequency to establish an appropriate level of knowledge, as determined by the judge, in teaching others how to perform the procedure, diagnose the condition, or render the treatment which is alleged to have been performed or rendered negligently by the defendant whose conduct is at issue; and
(C) Except as provided in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph:
(i) Is a member of the same profession;
(ii) Is a medical doctor testifying as to the standard of care of a defendant who is a doctor of osteopathy; or
(iii) Is a doctor of osteopathy testifying as to the standard of care of a defendant who is a medical doctor; and
(D) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code section, an expert who is a physician and, as a result of having, during at least three of the last five years immediately preceding the time the act or omission is alleged to have occurred, supervised, taught, or instructed nurses, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, physiciańs assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, or medical support staff, has knowledge of the standard of care of that health care provider under the circumstances at issue shall be competent to testify as to the standard of that health care provider. However, a nurse, nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, physiciańs assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or medical support staff shall not be competent to testify as to the standard of care of a physician.
February 27, 2006, 12:29 PM
Expert witnesses differ from ordinary witnesses in court proceedings in that they are permitted to offer their opinions and conclusions in court. When a person is presented as an expert witness, the court will examine that person's training, experience, and past history in testifying on a certain subject, and determine if that person will be qualified to testify as an expert witness.
In an animal neglect and abuse case I was involved in, I was prepared to be qualified as an 'expert in knowing when a dog needs urgent veterinary care'. Had the accused challenged my qualifications, my veterinarian was prepared to testify that he had treated my many dogs over a period of many years and I had demonstrated good judgment in knowing when the dogs needed his care and when they were Ok to be left to heal on their own.
February 27, 2006, 01:32 PM
I was once in Federal court (friend's family member was on trial) with a "firearms expert" for the feds. The Feds claimed that the man's legally owned Beretta 950 .25 was a preferred gang weapon because of it was powerful enough to take down an elephant.
I almost started laughing out loud- several jury members did start laughing.
I guess everyone has a different definition of expert.
The man was acquitted and the pistol returned.:)
February 27, 2006, 01:38 PM
Ah yes, you are correct... Wasn't that passed last year as part of the GA tort reform package?
I know I was involved in a case a couple of years ago where the plaintiff's main expert had not practiced the specialty for over 10 years.
Also, I do not believe the tort reform law addressed the issue of the qualifications of the physician who the attorney uses to file the initial complain. I might not be wording that correctly. When a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiffs attorney has to have a statement from some MD stating that malpractice occurred. After that initial statement, that MD is not necessarily used as an expert witness during the case. He is just used to get the case rolling. I do not believe the new law makes any stipulation about his qualifications. Do you know anything about that?
February 27, 2006, 02:23 PM
I don't know about that state, but I know there are plenty of doctors out there who don't practice medicine, they just work for lawyers.
February 27, 2006, 02:26 PM
Well, what makes someone a Consultant? (I say as someone who sometimes works as one)
An utter lack of shame and $13.95 at the print shop to get some nice business cards.