Errors and Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses are crucial in the legal system.  Many experts are chosen based upon their skill and knowledge in a particular field.  Whether it’s a criminal case or civil lawsuit, an expert has a great impact on the outcome of a trail.   Many prosecutors weigh the chances of a potential case based upon the their interpretation of an expert’s analysis.

In television criminal dramas, the science can seem so straight forward.  Many times these shows gloss over human error and the imitations of the science.  In the real world, a case can come down to a simple interpretation of minute details.  A smug on a photo or bad lighting may influence the expert’s perception.  A bad calibration could offset the result.

On top of all that, science is constantly advancing.  The probable facts of today are the mistakes of tomorrow.  Expert witnesses could be certain today and a new process could invalidate that certainty.

So what happens in a case when mistakes like these come to light?  It can vary.

In a criminal case, if the prosecutor becomes aware of the fact that evidence may not be as solid they have an ethical duty to disclose that knowledge if it would tend to negate the guilt of the accused.

But what about a civil case?

This is more questionable.  Obviously, attorneys should bring new knowledge forward as they would be ethically inclined to do so.  But, once a case is settled or a dispute resolved, reinitiating the process because of one advancement or because of one mistake becomes very costly.  Further, the terms of a settlement might waive the right to initiate a suit if new evidence or data came to light.

This is why it is absolutely imperative that you consult with an experienced and dedicated attorney to insure that your case is handled appropriately.  Please do not hesitate to contact our offices regarding your criminal or civil matters.