New Video on Working with Experts

I’m pleased to announce a new collaboration between the Public Defense Education team at the School of Government and Indigent Defense Services. I frequently get questions from defense lawyers about expert witnesses. Where do you find experts? How do you know which expert is right for your case? How do you go about getting funding … Read more

Expert Testimony about Eyewitness Identification

This post addresses three recurrent issues concerning eyewitness identification:

  1. When, if at all, is expert testimony about eyewitness identification admissible?
  2. When, if at all, is an indigent defendant entitled to funds with which to hire an expert on eyewitness identification?
  3. May jury instructions, rather than expert testimony, be used to inform the jury about factors relevant to the accuracy of an eyewitness identification?

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Discovery and Testimony about an Expert’s Experience with Sexual Abuse Victims

The rules of thumb about expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases are (1) that an expert can’t testify that a child was, in fact, abused absent physical evidence, and (2) that an expert can testify to common characteristics or “profiles” of sexual abuse victims. A recent court of appeals case holds that even if the State doesn’t give notice of an expert’s opinion regarding victims’ characteristics, the expert has the leeway to discuss his or her own experiences with survivors of sexual abuse.

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Impeachment with Evidence of Bias

I previously posted (here) about impeaching a witness with a prior inconsistent statement. In this blog post I’ll address impeaching with evidence of bias. As our blog readers know, a witness may be impeached with evidence that he or she is biased because of, for example, affection for or dislike of a party or self-interest … Read more


Imposing Fees for Forensic Expert Testimony — Is It Constitutional?

Tucked into the 2013 North Carolina budget bill is a provision imposing new court costs for expert witnesses who testify about chemical or forensic analyses at trial. Specifically, the new law (sec. 18B.19 of the budget bill) provides that upon conviction the trial judge must require a convicted defendant to pay $600 in costs if … Read more


What Are Permissible Discovery Sanctions Against the Defendant?

In State v. Cooper, issued last week, the Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction for first-degree murder of his wife and ordered a new trial. The case has drawn considerable media attention; recent news reports indicate that the State intends to petition the state Supreme Court for review. This blog post focuses on one … Read more

Use of Force Experts

A couple of months ago, the court of appeals decided State v. McDowell, __ N.C. App. __, 715 S.E.2d 602 (2011). The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder notwithstanding his claim of self-defense. A passage from the court’s opinion caught my eye: Dave Cloutier, an expert in use-of-force science and self-defense tactics, testified that, given … Read more