Revised 14 November 2007.
For over twenty years, the District of Columbia's police department looked to a narcotics expert for
authoritative testimony in criminal trials. In fact, the expert reportedly testified in thousands of cases. But
a few years ago, it was discovered that the expert was anything but – he pleaded guilty to charges that he
had been lying regarding his credentials. He didn't have a pharmacology degree, nor did he have a
license to practice pharmacy. Had it not been for a lawyer who decided to conduct a thorough
investigation of the expert, he might still be out there testifying
Expert witnesses are used in a wide range of litigation and their opinions are often viewed as critical –
frequently they can make or break a case. As a result, many trials have turned into a battle of the
experts. Yet despite their importance, few attorneys take the time to utilize the proper resources to find
the right experts, evaluate their credentials, and/or assess the admissibility of their testimony.
The purpose of this article is to suggest various online resources that can be used to find experts, gather
information about them (whether your own or the opposing party's), and assess the admissibility of their
testimony – as well as tips on how the information uncovered might be utilized. In addition, to assist in
research efforts, some potentially-relevant web sites have been included. However, note that because
many of the resources noted (e.g. agency opinions, verdict reports, etc.) are available from commercial
vendors, such as LexisNexis® (see, e.g., LexisNexis® Total Litigator, a task-based research platform that
includes a entire subpage devoted solely to researching expertsii), such full-service providers are not
repeatedly listed as possible sources of information.iii
II. Finding Experts
A. Learning about the Subject Matter
In order for a researcher to know what questions to ask a potential expert, that researcher should conduct
some basic investigation into the relevant topic of expertise. Of course, such research may also lead to
the names of good potential experts in that field.
1. Library Web Sites
a. Online Catalogs
Library web sites are an excellent place to begin the search to find information about the subject matter
and to find potential experts. Start by searching their online catalogs for books and journals on the subject
at issue. Pay particular attention to whom the author/authors are – someone who writes extensively on
the subject you are researching may make an ideal candidate to serve as an expert in your case.
Note that many library web sites allow the researcher to search their catalog for specific topics. For
example, a basic search on the Library of Congress's web site using the term
will return over 10,000 books and other publications. These results include not only each potential
expert's name, but also the title and date of publication, where it was published, and cross-references to
other works by that author.
Possible Sites: lists.webjunction.org/libweb/; catalog.loc.gov
b. Commercial Databases (Free Access)
In addition to libraries providing their online catalogs over the Internet, many public libraries also
offer their patrons free access to some online pay databases. Ordinarily, all you need to access
these pay databases from your home or office computer is a library card and an Internet
connection. The following list of databases includes just a few of those offered by some libraries:
Articles from newspapers / periodicals (full-text)
Oxford English Dictionary
Physician's Desk Reference
Business Directories (e.g., Standard & Poor's)
2. Medical Web Sites
The National Library of Medicine ("NLM") is an excellent place to find materials in all areas of biomedicine
and healthcare, including biomedical aspects of technology, the humanities, and the physical, life, and
social sciences. According to its web site, the NLM houses 6 million items — including books, journals,
technical reports, and manuscripts. Moreover, the site, along with its associated services
"PubMed" and "MedLine Plus," contains links to medical encyclopedias, full-text news stories, articles, and free
publications listed on the Internet, as well as information on how to order articles that must be purchased.
Every branch of medicine has its own professional association along with an accompanying web site,
many of which have article databases and membership directories. The web site of the American Board
of Medical Specialties is one of the best places to look for links to these associations.
Possible Sites: www.nlm.nih.gov; www.webmd.com; www.abms.org
3. Bookstore Web Sites
Whether looking for information or for potential experts, commercial web sites such as Amazon.com or
barnesandnoble.com can be powerful research tools. For example, a recent search for
safety" at Barnes and Noble's site returned 669 results. The listing for each book includes a synopsis, the
author's name, the table of contents, a note from the publisher about the work, and, in many cases,
reviews of the book. In addition to books, the same search on Amazon.com found manuals and reports
written by potential experts.
Possible Sites: www.amazon.com; www.barnesandnoble.com
Over ten million full-text articles covering a wide variety of subjects and dating back to 1998 can be found
at Looksmart's FindArticles.com. Similarly, some expert witness directories such as JurisPro and Hieros
Gamos provide free access to articles written by experts. Many trade associations publish online
newsletters and some provide either full-text or extracts from articles. For example, the Accident
Reconstruction Communications (ARC) Network, a professional organization for those in the accident
reconstruction industry, has a monthly newsletter with articles authored by experts. This site also has an
active discussion forum that includes opinions posted by various accident reconstructionists.
Possible Sites: www.findarticles.com;
www.phptr.com/articles/index.asp?st=45190&rl=1 (technical engineering);
B. Tracking Down The Best Expert for Your Case
1. Search Engines: Their Value and Their Limits
Search tools such as Google tend to be over-inclusive instruments for finding expert witnesses, unless
the search query is precisely tailored. Accordingly, be sure to utilize the advanced search features that
are available. For instance, searches in quotes will look for the exact phrase entered, thereby yielding
more precise search results than those without. Similarly, by using the
"Advance Search" function on
Google, a user can retrieve Adobe Acrobat PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, and Microsoft
For relevancy purposes, it is also important to remember that the first few results on Google are often
"paid listings." Anyone can pay to have the top spot for such terms as
"OSHA expert."iv It is also worth
noting that the results retrieved through some search engines are dependent on the order in which the
search terms are entered. For instance, a search of
"Robert Smith" will return different results than a
search of "Smith Robert." Accordingly, it may be worthwhile to run an expert's name both ways to ensure
that all of the most-relevant results are retrieved. And if your search on a particular subject is not working,
try re-ordering your search terms.
Also, remember that because the World Wide Web is mostly an un-policed forum, the information found
through search engines may be inaccurate. A well-publicized recent example involved the collaborative
encyclopedia Wikipedia.v Accordingly, such general web searches should not be looked to as the final
word regarding an expert.
Possible sites: www.google.com;
2. Product Searches
Searching for the name of a product at issue will likely lead to information about it, and potentially to the
names of knowledgeable experts. For instance, suppose an attorney had a personal injury case that
involved a Weatherby brand rifle. A search on Google for
"Weatherby rifles" leads to the web site of the
manufacturer, the names of distributors, articles about the gun, upgrades, and safety notices.
Even more information about companies and products can be found at the ThomasNet site (formerly
known as Thomas Register), which has gathered company information from registrations of companies in
its "industrial buying guides." This free online directory provides access to over 650,000 industrial
companies, indexed by 67,000 product and service categories. After a free registration, one can search
for a product, service, brand name, or company name. For example, a search for
"bicycle pumps" leads
to profiles for manufacturers, including each company's description, its mailing address, phone number,
fax number, web site address(es), amount of assets, employees, and the name of the parent company.
Possible sites: www.thomasnet.com
3. Expert Witness Referral Companies
Expert witness referral companies maintain databases of professionals who are available for expert
witness assignments. The benefits of using these services is their large size and the variety of their
databases, so one can save a lot of time looking for experts. The downside is that the user has to contact
the referral company to get information for the expert, and then pay an additional fee to retain that expert.
Possible sites: www.tasanet.com;
4. Expert Witness Directories
Expert witness directories allow the researcher to browse for consultants in a particular area of expertise
and contact them directly. Because the experts usually pay a listing fee, the search is free to the user.
Such directory listings often contain valuable information about experts, including: areas of expertise,
educational background, professional experience, and information about the lawsuits in which they have
testified (e.g. whether the expert typically testifies for plaintiffs or for the defense).
Many bar associations, such as the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the San Francisco Bar
Association, have online directories of expert witnesses. Many commercial expert witness directories
also exist. For example, Experts.com provides free information about a variety of experts to attorneys,
businesses, reporters, insurance companies, judges, librarians, and the media. This site includes contact
information for the expert, a short biography, and a link to the expert's e-mail address and web site.
Many of the large legal portals, such as Martindale-Hubbell®, Law.com, Hieros Gamos and Findlaw also
have online directories with short biographies and links to the expert's web site.
Built by practicing attorneys, the JurisPro Expert Witness Directory is a free national online directory of
expert witnesses in thousands of categories. Visitors to JurisPro are able to view and download the
expert's contact information; and link to his or her web site; obtain the expert's full curriculum vitae
available for download or print; read articles that the expert has written that discuss his or her areas of
expertise; review the expert's background as an expert witness (how many times the expert has testified,
how often for the plaintiff versus for the defense, etc.); and obtain contact information for the expert's
Possible sites: www.JurisPro.com;
5. Verdict Reports
Verdict reports are summaries of lawsuits that have either been tried to decision by a judge/jury or settled
non-confidentially. A verdict report usually contains the case name, case number, date of decision,
"topic" (e.g. medical malpractice, employment discrimination, etc.), result (i.e. did the plaintiff(s) or
defendant(s) win?) and the amount of the judgment (if any), the alleged injury, jurisdictional information
(i.e. state and county where the lawsuit was tried), name of judge, name of attorneys, a brief summary of
the facts, a listing of the experts who were used by the parties and other miscellaneous information about
the lawsuit. The verdict report companies usually solicit this information from attorneys who want to
report a favorable result in one of their lawsuits for "marketing" purposes.vi Obviously, such reports can
be used to find experts in a particular field.
Though there are hundreds of thousands of verdict reports now online, only a few free, searchable
nationwide jury verdicts web sites exist. For instance, morelaw.com has verdicts and settlements dating
back to December 1996, and one may search that database by
"defendant's expert," or "plaintiff's
The National Association of State Jury Verdict Publishers (NASJV) web site is a portal for many jury
verdict publications. The data from this site is organized from two dozen independent reporters
responsible for 29 publications in the United States. A table and map show the jurisdictions covered.
According to the web site, its "expert witness directory" contains the names of nearly 40,000 experts who
have testified in civil trials across the United States. Searches, however, can only be conducted by
clicking on an alphabetical listing of experts – Boolean search functionality is not available. The search
results only include the expert's name, area of expertise, and a link to the jury verdict publication in which
the expert's information appears. It is then necessary to contact that publication to retrieve further
information, for which a fee is charged.
According to various search engine experts, the top search tools fail to locate 95% or more of the pages
on the Web.vii These
"un-indexed" pages are often referred to as the
"Deep Web" or the "Invisible Web"
and are rarely retrieved by the casual
"search engine" researcher.viii The
"Invisible Web," such as those
databases on the web sites of colleges/universities, hospitals, and associations, offers researchers fruitful
places to find experts.
a. Colleges and Universities
College and university web sites are excellent sources for finding and evaluating experts. These web
sites should be searched directly, as the individual faculty member's biography usually does not appear in
search engine results. For example, the Florida State University College of Medicine has set up separate
web pages for many of its professors, including a short video (in mpg form) of the professor, his or her
curriculum vitae, publications, class schedules, research projects, links the professor thought were
interesting, and, for some professors, even their hobbies. A search on this site retrieved a Florida
biochemistry professor who specializes in protein engineering, enjoys Formula One auto-racing, and has
a link to a Japanese Sumo wrestling web site. One might utilize such personal information when chatting
with the professor prior to a deposition.
By clicking on the "advanced search" button on Google, the user has the option to search only on the web
sites of particular colleges or universities. This facilitates quick searches of different schools without
having to learn how to navigate each university's own web site.
www.utexas.edu/world/univ/alpha (alphabetical list of colleges and universities);
www.utexas.edu/world/univ/state (list of colleges and universities by state)
b. Healthcare Facilities
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' web site is a directory of nearly
18,000 healthcare organizations, including ambulatory care facilities, assisted living facilities, behavioral
healthcare facilities (such as chemical dependency centers and development disabilities organizations),
HMOs, home care organizations, hospitals, laboratories, long-term care facilities, and office-based
surgeons. And many healthcare facilities and organizations have excellent directories of their doctors.
For example, on the Children's Hospital of Boston web site, a search for cardiologists in Boston resulted
in 44 listings, each with photographs, contact information (including e-mail), and the doctor's professional
certifications and educational background.
If you are looking for a doctor with a particular area of expertise, an excellent web site is that of the U.S.
News and World Report's ranking of best hospitals. Because the ranking is also done by discipline and
sub-discipline, you can quickly locate centers of excellence in specific areas.
For virtually every field and interest there is an association – and within those associations are potential
experts. The best place to find information about associations is through the
Database" (otherwise known as the "Encyclopedia of Associations"). This database can be accessed
online free through the web sites of some university libraries and public libraries, provided one has a
library card for that institution. As an example, by going to the Los Angeles County Public Library's web
site and entering a library card number, one can access this database and find information for
approximately 460,000 international, national, regional, state and local membership organizations in all
fields. These listings provide information about the organization, its membership, and contact information
for its director. Such a database can be extremely helpful for finding experts in rather obscure fields,
such as hang gliding or petroleum packaging.
III. Evaluating the Potential Expert
The "formal" rules governing the discovery of information related to experts are usually fairly limited. In
almost every jurisdiction, the opposing party must disclose the name and expertise of any experts that
party intends to use during the trial. In addition, oftentimes the expert must also disclose prior lawsuits in
which he/she worked, publications, and any reports produced by that expert for the lawsuit at hand. But
that is usually the limit of information that is formally exchanged.
It is therefore extremely important for a researcher to go
"outside the rules" to find out as much as
possible about that expert. As David M. Malone and Paul J. Zwier write in their book
Before deposition, the attorney is clearly free to direct his graduate students or other
assistants to investigate earlier testimony and earlier publications and to read them all
with the issues of the present case in mind. If the attorney has been so fortunate as to
find other counsel who have opposed this expert in their cases, they may be able to
provide him not only with transcripts but also with copies of exhibits prepared by that
expert, or at least used by the expert, which will foreshadow the expert presentation that
he is likely to face at deposition and trial. All of this discovery is conducted "outside the
rules" to the extent that it is not governed by rule-imposed deadlines or limitations.ix
The smart researcher gathers as much information as possible before retaining an expert or prior to
deposing the opposing party's for several reasons. First, the researcher wants to uncover any
information that can be used to discredit his or her own expert. Are there any inaccuracies about his/her
qualifications? Did that expert say something different in another lawsuit involving similar facts? Has
that expert ever been disqualified? Second, information obtained about an opposing expert might be
used to gain a tactical advantage during a deposition or at trial. In fact, some creative attorneys will track
down personal information about an expert in an effort to make sure that the expert is aware that the
attorney has thoroughly researched him/her and, therefore, that expert must be extremely accurate in
his/her testimony else he/she be caught by this seemingly "knowledgeable" attorney.
A. Reviewing Credentials & Professional Information
Whether you are considering retaining a particular expert or need to learn more about the opposing
party's expert, it is important to verify credentials. Studies suggest that falsifying credentials on a resume
is not a rare occurrence. Recently, ResumeDoctor.com conducted a study of over 1,000 resumes over a
six month period and discovered that over 40 percent of the resumes contained at least one significant
inaccuracy relating to dates of employment, job titles or education, and over 12 percent contained two or
more errors.x Similarly, a survey of 2.6 million job applicants verified by Avert, Inc. (which specializes in
job screening and selection) revealed that 44 percent lied about their work experience, 23 percent
fabricated credentials or licenses, and 41 percent lied about their education.xi
Perhaps the lure of high fees, or perhaps something else, has caused some so-called experts to inflate
their credentials. For instance, on March 3, 2005, it was reported that an expert who had testified at a
trial in Minnesota had been charged with three counts of perjury for, among other things, claiming that he
had received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison when, in fact, he
never attended the university.xii On February 24, 2005, it was reported that an Alabama private
investigator, who had been used by defense counsel as a forensics expert, had been arrested and
charged with perjury. Despite the fact that the
"expert" had sworn under oath that his resume was
truthful, it was determined that he did not, in fact, have a medical degree from Harvard, a doctorate from
MIT or a Texas medical license.xiii, xiv
Accordingly, it is imperative that a researcher check the credentials of both the opposing party's experts
and his/her own. The following resources may be of some use in that regard.
1. Identity and Location
An Expert Witness Designation prepared by opposing counsel is not necessarily reliable. Would
opposing counsel intentionally misspell an expert's name, making it harder to find background
information? Maybe (or maybe not) intentionally – but even a typographical error can cause you to spend
hours searching in vain.
Public record database search services that are kept current are a very valuable way to verify not only the
full name of the expert, but oftentimes will help you identify all the locations where an expert has lived. If
you find that an expert has moved around often, this could suggest that the expert is trying to avoid
licensing problems in a particular location (or locations). Much of the publicity concerning a national
database of licensure information for doctors (which is not available to the public) has focused on
physicians who had their license revoked and simply moved to a new state. Some physicians have even
done this multiple times. Many times, experts will be licensed in locations where they are going to testify,
regardless of whether they live there or not. If a testimonial history shows an expert as having appeared
in 8 different state courts, the agency handling appropriate licensing for each of those states should also
be searched. To ensure you locate a complete licensure history for an expert, start by searching
databases that index professional licenses in all 50 states and that allow you to search all states
simultaneously. The professional licensing department for each state where an expert has resided will
show if their license is still current, if it has lapsed, if it was revoked or suspended, and in some states,
whether there were any disciplinary actions. Some states, such as Florida, even allow you to search for
malpractice insurance claims.
2. Educational Background
Whether you are considering retaining an expert or investigating an expert named by opposing counsel,
verification of an expert's educational background has become an important part of every researcher's
Sometimes you can verify an expert's degree by calling the Registrar's Office of the appropriate college or
university, but some universities and colleges require a release and social security number before they
will verify an individual's attendance date and whether any degrees were conferred. Obviously, this will
be easier to get from an expert you are retaining, as you can include the release form as part of the
retention agreement. Several online services allow you to verify attendance and whether they received a
degree (or degrees). Although these online services will not cover every college and university in the
United States, they often have a list of those that participate in their service.
The other issue to address, and which has received a lot of publicity lately, are
"degree mills" – nonaccredited
colleges and universities that sell degrees, primarily through the Internet. The State of Oregon
has been very aggressive in combating these degree mills and offers a list of colleges and universities
whose degrees are not acceptable for those seeking employment with the State. Several other states,
including Michigan, now maintain lists of colleges and universities whose degrees are not acceptable. A
little extra effort, often at a minimal cost, can help avoid retaining an expert whose credentials are invalid,
or can identify an opposing expert who does not have the background and training claimed in his/her
www.michigan.gov/documents/NonaccreditedSchools_78090_7.pdf (no longer available);
3. Search Engines
Once an expert's name, location and educational background have been verified, search engines can
again be used to research that expert's background and qualifications. An expert's personal web site,
articles, research projects, presentations, speaking engagements, blogs, and even postings on
discussion boards can be found by simply conducting a search for the expert's name on a search engine
such as Google. To produce better results, use the advanced search function and include the expert's
full name, including his or her middle initial, if known. Be aware that many people share even the most
unusual of names. Researchers should, of course, verify data before relying on it.
Possible Sites: www.google.com
4. Expert Directories
As noted above, expert witness directories provide a wealth of information about experts. Importantly,
this information can be compared to the information that expert has provided through formal discovery
efforts. Has the expert included misleading information about his/her credentials in an attempt to market
his/her services through a directory? A simple comparison of the information provided by the expert with
his/her directory listing might reveal such a discrepancy.
5. The Expert's Web Site
An expert's personal web site should be carefully reviewed prior to retaining that expert. If a search
engine did not locate the expert's web site, try simply entering the expert's name or company name as a
dot com (e.g., expertname.com). Many experts post their full curriculum vitae, prior litigation experience,
speaking engagements, references, memberships and professional organization affiliations, articles
and/or newsletters on their web sites. But when reviewing an expert's web site, keep in mind that
opposing counsel can do so as well. Also, be aware that experts' web sites are sometimes little more
than self-promotion, so tread carefully. Is there anything embarrassing or contradictory on the site?
Does the expert pronounce that he or she is
"the leader in the industry" or put forth similar bravado that
could affect how the jury perceives the expert? Imagine how the jury would react if the pages of the
expert's web site were displayed as exhibits at trial, because they very well might be.
6. License and Specialty Certification Information
Licensing information can be found online for virtually all 50 states and can easily be searched to verify
the current status for any licenses an expert claims to hold. In addition, many organizations, such as the
American Medical Association, the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Board of
Surgery, have their own web sites where one can check the certification status of experts. Search
Systems (which is now a pay site) links to over 38,000 public record databases. By running a search for
the type of record (e.g. license or certification), the jurisdiction (e.g. Ohio), and the occupation (e.g.
accountant), the user can retrieve a list of databases where the licensing information can be found. Using
the metasite Portico, one can verify licenses for occupations such as doctors, contractors, architects and
more. Finally, many certifying organizations also have either an online listing of experts and their
certification or are willing to verify an expert's certification(s) telephonically.
When reviewing licensing information or certification, be on the lookout for suspicious language. Words
such "resigned," "restricted" and the like should raise questions and prompt further investigation.
Moreover, be sure to review the expiration date of the license or certification – it should be a matter of
concern if the expert in question has failed to renew the license but represents that he/she is currently licensed.xv Whereas a lapsed license may indicate that an expert once practiced in the area but has
since moved to another location, words such as
"suspended" or "surrendered" are often an indication of
disciplinary action or other reason for the expert to have been forced into surrendering his/her license.
Why that expert was forced to do so may be of extreme importance – to both you and your client.
Many medical experts write articles for medical journals (or are cited in articles written by others for
medical journals) – in fact, it is oftentimes because these individuals are published in medical journals
that they are considered to be experts. So, any researcher who is gathering background on a medical
expert must be sure to search through medical journals to see what, if anything, can be retrieved with
regard to that expert. In addition, such a search may serve to double check the list of authored works
submitted by the expert during the course of formal discovery.
8. Disciplinary Records
Nothing can be more discrediting to an expert than a reprimand or license revocation for (or even just an
allegation of) professional misconduct, especially if the misconduct goes to their credibility, such as a
fraud or perjury conviction.
All state governments and some professional associations maintain records of professional misconduct,
and these records are sometimes available via the Internet. Because the myriad of possible sites to
search, it is impractical to search them individually. Accordingly, the best approach to take when
pursuing disciplinary records is to first utilize public records to identify both an expert's current/prior
residences and professional licenses. Thereafter, focus subsequent research on those states,
professions and organizations with which the expert is affiliated.
It is sometimes possible to do a national search for an expert's disciplinary history on an occupation-by-occupation
basis. For instance, for medical doctors, search the Federation of State Medical Board's site
(http://www.docinfo.com). It should be noted, however, that some disciplinary actions are purged after a
given period of time. So, for example, if the policy of the board or association in question is to remove
records after 10 years, the record of an expert who was disciplined in 1996 may not appear on a board's
or association's web site in 2007.
Finally, Idex has created an internal database of experts who have been reviewed and disciplined by
jurisdictional licensing boards. To access this database, one must be an Idex member and a defense
attorney (or work on behalf of a defense attorney).
www.santacruzpl.org/readyref/files/time/drdiscpl.shtml (California Only);
News databases can be an incredible source of information, sometimes very damaging, about experts.
Consider the prominent handwriting expert who gave several interviews to the press in which he stated
that he was 99.9% certain the John Mark Karr wrote the ransom note found in connection with the
JonBenet Ramsey murder – and was so certain that
"he was staking a large part of his
reputation on his judgment[.]"xvi This damaging claim (remember – John Mark Karr was never charged with the crime)
can't be found in the "usual" places (i.e. case opinions, trial transcripts, etc.); it is only found through a
search of news databases. Similarly, a search of a different expert's name through the news turned up
an article that revealed that he had been fined for contempt of court in Canada. Apparently, he had told a
Canadian judge that he could not testify during a certain two-week period because he had to be in
another jurisdiction to testify in other cases during those weeks. In fact, he was in that other jurisdiction
having a romantic rendezvous with his new girlfriend.xvii
Within news sources, researchers can often learn an expert's opinions, through not only articles but also
other types of information, including radio and television interviews, letters to the editor, and even blog
postings (though blogs aren't technically news). Yet despite the existence of such a potentially-fruitful
resource, many researchers fail to consider the news when they research experts.
One of the largest commercially-available news databases (available from LexisNexis) contains over
22,000 different news sources, including more than just newspaper and magazine articles. In fact, such
databases even contain transcripts from television and radio shows (e.g. CNN, 60 Minutes, 20/20, CBS
Evening News, National Public Radio, etc.), articles from specialized legal news sources, and other
sources (e.g. blogs).
An alternative (and free) approach to searching commercially-available databases is to visit the
portion of Google or Yahoo and then conduct a keyword or name search throughout many news outlets.
Be aware, however, that Google and Yahoo's News databases are not as robust (e.g. Google searches
4500 news sources) as the databases available from the commercial vendors. Moreover, a researcher
still may have to pay to access some of the articles identified (e.g. to retrieve a 1999 article from the
Chicago Sun-Times, found via Google, costs $2.95). Running a search at the web site of a particular
news source is another alternative. For instance, a list of newspapers and magazines and their links can
be found at newslink.org. Some online newspapers and magazine require a registration, which is often
free, whereas others charge to view and download articles.
It is worthwhile to run a search for an expert name on these news web sites, especially in the newspapers
in the expert's locality. For example, after a free registration, a search on the Los Angeles Times' web
site for a particular psychologist retrieved a story about a recent kidnapping. This psychologist testified
regarding the memory of a five year-old's eye-witness to the crime. The article reported that this
psychologist had worked as an expert witness in more than 300 criminal trials. He also provided a quote
in this story about the reliability of child eye-witnesses. This is important information to have if one were
going to retain or depose this expert, especially if the case involved this topic.
www.daypop.com (Note: no longer available);
10. Discussion Board Posts
It may be possible to find an expert's opinion on a particular subject by searching postings on discussion
boards (otherwise called "Usenet" postings). For instance, by clicking on the
"Groups" tab on Google
home page, one can access more than 1 billion messages dating back to 1981. Using the
search" button, searches can be run by the expert's name, the subject matter, or the expert's email
address. Keep in mind, however, that many postings are made anonymously or with pseudonyms, and
that people often change their e-mail addresses.
Possible Sites: groups.google.com
11. Filings (Summary Dockets & Judgments)
Because not every lawsuit that has been filed by or judgment that has been rendered for/against an
expert has a court opinion associated with it, a thorough researcher should search through databases
containing summary docket and judgment information. A summary docket database contains basic
information about a lawsuit that has been filed in a particular jurisdiction. Such basic information usually
includes the case number, the names of the parties, when the lawsuit was filed, the type of lawsuit (e.g.
medical malpractice, securities fraud, etc.), the status of the case (i.e. whether the case is closed), the
names of the attorneys representing the parties, and some other miscellaneous information. In contrast,
judgment databases contain information about cases in a particular jurisdiction that have actually been
resolved. A judgment or lien record contains information about the debtor (i.e. the person or entity that
owes/owed the money), the creditor (i.e. to whom the money was/is owed), the amount owed and some
12. Congressional Information and Other Government Documents
Because some more-prominent experts sometimes appear before Congress and testify or do work for
Congressional Committees, information about them can be uncovered through a search of congressional
records and documents. Other experts, along with other professionals and scientists, sign letters that are
sent to Congress regarding certain issues. Insights as to an expert's political position, even if not directly
relevant to the issues involved in the pending lawsuit, may be of tactical value. To search full-text through
state and federal government documents (simultaneously or separately), consider Firstgov.gov.
13. Law Reviews Articles
Because authors of law review articles sometimes quote experts, cite to their works, and/or discuss their
testimony, a database containing law reviews can also sometimes be a good source of information about
experts. Not all law reviews are online for free, so for a more comprehensive law review search, use the
pay sites, LexisNexis or Westlaw, or your library's free remote databases.
14. Public Records
Public records can reveal a lot about an expert. For instance, an expert's financial situation might be
revealed by how much his/her house cost, what type of car that expert drives or a recent bankruptcy
filing. Voter registration records may reveal a political party affiliation. To conduct a multi-jurisdictional
search of public records or a multi-record type search (e.g., criminal records together with bankruptcy
records, etc.), you will need to become a subscriber to one of the commercial investigative databases
such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, or Merlin. These People "finder" resources (which are searchable by name,
address and phone number, among other criteria) may reveal alternative names (a.k.a. aliases) used by
the expert. Company information may disclose conflicts of interest. Even criminal records should be
searched, as some experts have engaged in significant criminal activity.xviii
For experts who are engineers, scientists or the like, a search through patent information might prove
fruitful. A good example is one of the ballot-contest lawsuits that was heard in Leon County, Florida in
2000. During the trial, then-Governor Bush's attorneys called to the stand an expert on voting machines.
He was called because he had helped design the punch card voting devices used in many of the
contested counties in Florida. Called to counter, among other claims, the assertion made by then-Vice
President Gore that chad buildup from prior elections could prevent a voter in a subsequent election from
completely punching out a chad, the expert defended the use of the punch card voting devices and
deemed them reliable.
However, during his cross-examination, Gore's attorney confronted the expert with a patent he obtained
on October 27, 1981 for a "new and improved" version of the voting devices used in the Florida election.
In the "Background of the Invention" portion of the patent application, the expert had made several
potentially damaging statements, such as:
Incompletely punched cards can cause serious errors to occur in data processing
operations utilizing such cards.
* * *
If, however, the voter does not hold the voting punch straight up and down when
punching, it is possible under certain temperature and humidity conditions to pull the
template toward the voter a few thousandths of an inch, sufficient to prevent complete
removal of the chad when the stylus is inserted. This can produce what is called a
"hanging chad," as the chad-piece of the card is still attached to the card by one or two of
the frangible holding points.
* * *
It must be emphasized that the presence of even one incompletely punched chip in a run
of several thousand tabulating cards is in most cases too great a defect to be tolerated.
* * *
Therefore, the material typically used for punch boards in punch card voting can and
does contribute to potentially unreadable votes, because of hanging chad or mispunched
Pat. No. 4,297,566. Gore's attorney used the expert's own words to support Gore's position:
Stephen Zack (attorney) : Any incompletely punched cards can cause serious errors to
occur in data-processing operation utilizing such cards. Is that a fair statement of what
The Expert: That is correct.
As reported by the New York Times: "The effect of [the expert's] testimony was written plain in the
strained facial expressions of the Bush legal team[.]"xix
It is important to have a clear understanding of why an expert is being retained. Will this expert only
consult on the matter, or will he/she be asked to testify at a deposition or at trial? If this expert will
ultimately be called to state his/her opinion before a decision maker, then consider the point articulated by
Harry Beckwith in his book, "The Invisible Touch":
Communication is not a skill, it is the skill.
Jurors are very rarely persuaded by credentials alone – in fact, most jurors will say that the qualifications
of the opposing experts "cancel each other out." In his book, Mr. Beckwith cites a jury survey conducted
by DecisionQuest, a jury consulting service. The results found that jurors sided with one expert over
another because one expert more clearly communicated her expertise. Mr. Beckwith summed up this
result with a simple idea held by jurors:
"If you're so smart, why can't you speak
Accordingly, it is very important to understand what type of appearance the expert will make. Some
experts have included streaming video of themselves on their own web sites to enable attorneys to see
them in action. In addition, at least one expert directory allows you to both see and hear the listed
Podcasts are the latest phenomenon in delivering audio content to listeners to share one's expertise or
opinions. Think of it like "radio delivered via the Internet." Instead of listening to a live broadcast,
however, listeners download audio files to their computers to play them back when it is convenient for
them. Like other kinds of content available on the Internet, podcasts cover a wide array of topics and are
relatively easy to create. Most podcasts are saved in the MP3 format, allowing maximum portability and
flexibility in playing back those files.
Two ways to find podcasts are (1) to use an online directory of podcasts, such as Ipodder.org
(Note: no longer available), The Blogs
of Law, or Blawg.org (click on the "Podcast" category) or (2) by simply using a search engine and adding
the word "podcast" to your keyword search.
In fact, a recent search of Google for "podcasts," retrieved
nearly 9 million results.
www.ipodder.org (Note: no longer available);
B. Uncovering Case-Related Informationxxi
1. Court Opinions
After verifying "credentials," a researcher should search court opinions (i.e. "case law") to find prior
lawsuits in which that expert has been involved. This information can be useful in several different ways.
First, the researcher may be able to determine whether the opposing party's expert has testified in any
lawsuits (as an expert) that were not disclosed on the list of lawsuits provided by the expert during the
course of formal discovery (as required by many rules of civil procedure). Believe it or not, some experts,
through mere negligence or outright deception – perhaps to hide
"bad" information – fail to disclose some
of the prior lawsuits in which they were involved. See, e.g., Doblar v. Unverferth Mfg. Co., 185 F.R.D. 258
(D.S.D. 1999) (engineering expert sanctioned for failing to disclose approximately 200 lawsuits in which
he had testified); Elgas v. Colorado Belle Corp., 179 F.R.D. 296 (D. Nev. 1998) (motion to strike expert
designation granted because designated expert failed to list other cases in which he had testified).
Second, many court opinions that mention experts discuss excluding their testimony for one reason or
another. If an expert's testimony has been excluded from a prior lawsuit, such information might be used
to get that same expert's testimony excluded from the researcher's lawsuit on the same or similar
And don't forget to look internationally. For instance, it is not that uncommon for an expert based in the
United States to work on, and testify in, cases in Canada (and vice-versa). Accordingly, searching
databases of Canadian case opinions makes good sense.
Several search techniques can be used to search opinions effectively. For instance, in the initial search,
enter only the expert's last name. However, if the expert's last name is more common, include his/her
first name as well – separated from the last name with a Boolean connector (e.g.,
"and" and "or") or a
proximity connector (e.g. "/3"). In almost all instances, do not include the expert's middle name or middle
initial (in case the expert does not use it or does not use it consistently). In short, start the search as
broadly as you dare and then narrow your results later. To narrow your search, add keywords describing
the expert's area of expertise ("toxic!") to your search.
2. The Daubert Tracker™
But not all case opinions specifically mention an expert by name. Instead, the authoring judge might only
refer to the expert as "plaintiff's expert" and leave it at that. Such an omission renders that potentially fruitful
opinion almost worthless to the investigative researcher who is searching for a particular name.
And that's where the Daubert Tracker can help.
The Daubert Tracker creates reports ("DTCRs") that summarize opinions addressing the admissibility of
expert witness testimony. Each summary is put into a chart, which identifies the case name, the case
number, the expert's name, the expert's area of expertise, the attorneys, the judge, a summary of the
court's decision (e.g. testimony inadmissible) and more.
These reports offer three significant advantages over a search through case opinions. First, as noted
previously, a case opinion that addresses the admissibility of expert testimony may not specifically
mention the expert in question by name. DTCRs actually identify, by name, who that expert is (even
when the associated case opinion does not) – a distinct advantage over case opinions (e.g. Waggoner v.
Amoco Prod. Co., 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 3416 (10th Cir. 1999) refers to expert testimony but does not
give the name of the expert in question; the relevant DTCR indicates who the expert is).
Second, DTCRs cover more opinions than those typically available by online services. For instance, very
few state trial court opinions are currently available online, yet DTCRs cover some state trial court
opinions. This means that a DTCR user is able to cast a wider, and different, net than when searching
regular case opinions.
Third, the Daubert Tracker also conducts name
"verification" – that is, because judges sometimes
misspell an expert's name in an opinion (e.g. Alan Done, a toxicologist, has had his first name spelled
"Allen" in at least two case opinions and "Allan" in at least one), the Daubert Tracker double checks the
spelling of each expert's name and corrects it in the relevant DTCR, if appropriate. So, it knows that the
Allan Done referenced in Blum v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 1996 Phila. Cty. Rptr. LEXIS 122, is actually
Alan Done, and the correct name is noted in the related DTCR.
3. Full Dockets (Including Access to Briefs & Motions)
As the federal courts continue to implement electronic filing, the Public Access to Court Electronic
Records system (aka "PACER") – continues to grow as a valuable tool.xxiii Because the dockets of almost
all federal district and bankruptcy courts are online at PACER (though only those of about half the federal
appellate courts are), many motions, briefs and other pleadings filed with the federal courts are available
online (at a per page cost).
In terms of PACER's functionality, a user can either search dockets of an individual court (by clicking on
"Links to PACER Web sites") or search multiple courts simultaneously (by clicking on the "U.S.
Party/Case Index"). So, with a list of federal cases in which an expert has appeared, a researcher can
retrieve the docket sheet from each case and search it (all online) for any reference to the expert.
Moreover, more recent docket sheet entries have links to a PDF of the filing itself.
Unfortunately, two significant problems affect the use of PACER. First, the researcher has to already
have a list of cases in which the expert has participated, so if that researcher does not have a list, or the
expert in question has not been completely truthful in the list provided to the researcher, some information
could be missed. Second, docket entries do not always specifically mention the expert by name, making
it difficult to identify which documents truly relate to the expert (e.g. does that
"Motion to Exclude" relate to
the expert or to something else?).
These problems, however, are not insurmountable. For instance, with respect to the first downside of
PACER, commercial vendors have made the PACER dockets full-text searchable. Specifically,
LexisNexis® CourtLink® gives the researcher the capability of searching through dockets of cases filed in
the federal courts (as well as various state courts), and some of those dockets go as far back as the mid-
1980s. Westlaw's CourtExpress offers a similar service (though with more limited coverage). So by
simply searching for the expert's name, a researcher might uncover a wide variety of information about an
expert, including motions (e.g. "Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of Expert Smith"), orders (e.g.
"Order Granting Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of Expert Smith"), expert reports, affidavits,
declarations, resumes, etc. – and might even uncover cases in which the expert has been involved, even
if that expert failed to make that disclosure to the researcher.
With respect to the second downside of PACER, several online legal services, such as LexisNexis,
Westlaw and even the Daubert Tracker, offer full-text searchable databases of motions, pleadings and
briefs filed in both state and federal court. These databases enable a researcher to search them in order
to uncover court filings that mention the expert.
Finding the brief filed in support of a motion in limine to exclude an expert can provide valuable
information as to why an effort was made to exclude an exert. Was his/her background insufficient for the
area of expertise he/she were addressing? Were there validity issues with the expert's claimed
background/education/licensing? Has the expert's methodology been called into question? Finding even
one or two of these briefs, opinions or motions might give you a direct insight into someone else's
appraisal of the expert you are investigating.
4. Case Filings
Knowing what, if any, lawsuits an expert has been a party to may be quite valuable to a researcher. For
instance, many medical experts are parties to lawsuits because they are practicing doctors, and, as such,
get sued. If a medical expert has been found liable for malpractice in a prior lawsuit, that information may
be valuable to the researcher. Commercial online services are continuously expanding their coverage of
state courts, and both those services and PACER offer a way to search federal court filings.
If the jurisdiction where the expert practices is not available online or is not covered by one of the online
legal services, consider calling the clerk of the court for the county where the expert practices. The clerk
may be able to tell you over the telephone if there has been any litigation in which the expert was a
named party. Some Clerk's offices will charge a fee, requiring that you send them your request, along
with payment for the fee they charge. If this is the case, then you will need to plan ahead, as the
response time can vary greatly from a matter of days to (in the worst cases) well over two months.
5. Verdict Reports
A researcher who finds verdict reports that mention a particular expert can then analyze those reports
and possibly draw conclusions about him/her. For instance, after reviewing a number of verdict reports, a
researcher might uncover potential bias – the expert always seems to testify for plaintiffs or defendants,
or the expert has testified for a particular party or attorney on numerous occasions. And make no mistake
about it, expert bias exists.xxiv
In addition, information contained within a verdict report might lead to additional information about the
expert. For instance, the researcher could use the case name and number listed in a verdict report, along
with the jurisdictional information, to have someone track down the file from the lawsuit to search for more
information about the expert. Or, if the names of the attorneys are listed in the report, a researcher might
contact them to ask them for their impressions of the expert. In short, how a researcher uses the
information they find online about an expert is only limited by their creativity.
6. Agency Opinions
Many experts (particularly doctors) appear before not only courts but also various agencies. This means
that the savvy researcher will search through agency opinions as well as court records. After identifying
agencies before which an expert has appeared, the researcher may then be able to contact those
agencies and ask for the expert's reports or transcripts of the expert's testimony – looking for any
information contained therein that contradicts what the expert might be prepared to say during the current
litigation. Although many agencies enable a researcher to search their opinions at their web sites, such
an effort can be quite time consuming. An alternative is to utilize commercial vendors, which have
databases that combine opinions from numerous agencies, thereby making all those various opinions
To date, there is no free, centralized database for expert witness transcripts. For defense attorneys, full
text copies of the expert's testimony are available for a fee from IDEX,
which has built its database of deposition
transcripts through submissions from its own
members. Electronic versions of some
documents can be viewed and downloaded
directly from this site at a reduced price.
Expert witness transcripts are also
available for a fee to defense attorneys who
are members of the Defense Research
Institute (aka "DRI").
On the plaintiff's side, the ATLAxxv Exchange makes available to its members a database of over 10,000
expert witnesses, and over 15,000 transcripts. This database is developed by submission from its
members. The commercial service TrialSmith document database has more than 350,000 transcripts and
is jointly sponsored by more than 52 trial lawyer associations and litigation groups. Each group
encourages its members to contribute depositions and other documents to TrialSmith. One can run a
free search on their site for a particular expert, and then view or download the transcripts immediately
from the TrialSmith web site.
As an alternative, try directly contacting lawyers who have worked with (or against) a particular expert,
and request a copy of the deposition transcript from them. Most attorneys keep their own expert witness
transcripts, and would be willing to share (provided, of course, the favor is returned some day). For
example, ATLA posts the contact information for the member who provided information about that expert.
The experts themselves often list the names of the attorneys with whom they have worked in the past on
their web site – or the researcher can simply ask the expert for a list of references. One can then find and
contact that attorney through Martindale-Hubbell.
In addition, online services such as the DRI and IDEX offer
"histories" of prior inquires concerning an
expert witness. Because these services obtain the inquirer's name, address, litigation information and
more, you can use them to contact that prior inquirer to see if they have any transcripts, reports,
publications or other materials they may have gather on the expert you are researching – whether from
their litigation or from others gathered as they prepared their case.
One of the most rapidly changing areas of technology is the ability to post video material on the Internet.
Even now, some depositions and other materials regarding expert witnesses have begun showing up on
web sites such as YouTube.com. Therefore, searches for video material on the Internet will become an
ever more important part of the researcher's work and should not be overlooked.
Yahoo, Google, and AltaVista have added tabs to allow users to search for video. For example, running
a Yahoo video search for a computer forensic expert may retrieve extracts from video-taped depositions.
IV. Evaluating the Admissibility of Types of Expert Testimony
While it is obviously important to research the qualifications and backgrounds of individual experts, it is
also necessary to research the admissibility of testimony from the expert's discipline as a whole, as well
as the specific area of expertise, topic or sub-discipline on which the expert will be rendering an opinion.
A. Researching the Admissibility of Commonly-Seen Disciplines/Areas of Expertise
In both civil and criminal litigation, experts from certain professional disciplines are so routinely retained
and commonly seen in the courtroom that their testimony is generally less subject to challenge. For
example, in commercial litigation, a claim of lost profits which is being made by the plaintiff will require the
retention of a financial expert, either an accountant or an economist. In medical malpractice cases
involving birth injuries, it is virtually inevitable that both sides will need to retain a pediatric neurologist.
In such instances, the retaining attorney may be lured into thinking that he/she should be less concerned
about the need to thoroughly research the entire class of expertise. However, this type of presumption
could be quite dangerous, so it is incumbent upon the retaining attorney to determine how the retained
expert's methods and opinions conform to or deviate from other experts from the same discipline who are
testifying on the same topic. In addition to employing all of the standard research tools previously
discussed, a simple and useful practice that all retaining attorneys should employ is to have the
prospective expert explain in his or her own words how questions about
"the science" behind his/her
methods would be addressed. If the expert is unfamiliar with basic
"Daubert" or judicial "gatekeeping"
concepts or cannot clearly articulate the basic methodology used to arrive at his or her opinions, the
attorney should think twice before formally retaining the expert.
B. Researching the Admissibility of Emerging Disciplines/Areas of Expertise
If an expert will be giving testimony involving a novel or emerging theory or one with significant
controversy concerning its scientific legitimacy, the entire class of the testimony relating to the theory
needs to be researched. Even if the expert's general discipline is well-respected and not normally
vulnerable to challenge and the expert's qualifications and reputation are impeccable, when the expert is
giving testimony in an area that is novel and/or controversial, it is incumbent on the attorney to work along
side the expert to plan for an inevitable challenge.
A good example of a class of expertise where the theory and science behind the class is emerging is
trauma-induced fibromyalgia. Whereas Fibromyalgia Syndrome is an accepted and recognized
diagnostic category and rheumatology, the medical discipline most often involved in the treatment of
Fibroymyalgia Syndrome, is well-recognized and accepted, expert testimony that a physical trauma can
cause Fibromyalgia Syndrome is highly controversial. Although numerous studies support a causative
link between trauma and Fibromyalgia Syndrome, other studies do not support such a conclusion. This
example points to the important steps that an attorney needs to take in researching an expert who is
going to be giving testimony in an emerging area:
Know the science behind the theory: Attorneys presenting testimony in an emerging area
should be thoroughly acquainted with all major studies done and papers written on the topic.
Know the case law: Every effort should be made to avail oneself of all major opinions and
decisions that have been written on the admissibility of testimony in the emerging area.
Know the jurisdiction: Standards for admissibility vary from one jurisdiction to the next and
those standards will have a significant impact on the tack taken in arguing for or against admissibility of
novel or controversial testimony.
Know the court/judge: The best indicator of future admissibility of a novel or controversial
opinion is the established tendencies of the court or judge with respect to novel testimony in general and
specifically the class of testimony at hand.
Know the expert: When presenting novel testimony, it could be argued that the best safeguard
against exclusion would be to select an expert whose testimony on the topic has already been admitted.
It is more than just good practice to research experts thoroughly, it's a responsibility. First of all, judges
demand it. Consider the case of the attorneys in Chicago who discovered, after the jury had rendered its
verdict, that the opposing expert had falsified his credentials (e.g. an engineering degree from West
Point). The judge rejected those attorneys' request for a new trial and reminded them of their duty to
conduct thorough research:
"In preparing a case for trial," [Judge] Gordon explained, "many attorneys take for
granted that when an expert provides a CV that everything in the document is true.
However, it is plaintiff's job in preparing a case for trial to learn as much as possible about
an adverse party's expert witness, including verifying his qualifications as an
Judge Gordon's words are echoed by those of another judge, United States District Court Judge Nancy F. Atlas:
CAUTION: Never retain, use, or list in court pleadings an expert without thoroughly researching
Perhaps more importantly, failure to perform adequate research may have malpractice implications. For
instance, a California Court of Appeals recently ruled that an attorney has certain responsibilities with
respect to the retention and handling of experts, and that the failure to adequately discharge those
responsibilities could subject that attorney to a claim of professional negligence.xxviii
LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.; Michael
Brennan; Internet for Lawyers, Inc.; MDEX Online; and
James F. Robinson. All rights reserved.