Expert Witness Disqualification

Expert Witness DisqualificationThe main form of disqualification used for an expert witness is conflict of interest.  Conflict of interest is defined as “a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual’s personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official’s personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business.” In some rare cases, an expert may be dismissed due to the public interest in allowing or not allowing the expert to testify.

Examples of Conflict of Interest

  1. Attorney from the opposing side has communicated with the expert witness
  2. Expert accepts an offer from an attorney who was on the opposing side in a different case
  3. Attorney contacts an expert who testified for the attorney from the opposing side

Sometimes, there are implicit forms of conflict of interest. Confidential relationships do occasionally exist between an attorney and an expert from opposing sides.  Thus, the court must take measures to determine if there has been:

  • ·  Frequent interaction instead of one single contact
  • ·  Formal confidentiality agreement
  • ·  Excessive number of meetings between expert and attorney
  • ·  Fraudulent documentation constructed by expert under sole direction of attorney
  • ·  Monetary incentive to furnish expert answers/opinions
  • ·  Disclosure of strategy to opposing party