Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Drug Dealers Can Be Experts Too, Eighth Circuit Says

The Eighth Circuit has held that a drug trafficker may qualify as a defense expert on the modus operandi of illegal narcotics operations. It was error, says the court, for the trial judge to exclude the testimony based on the judge's appraisal of the witness's credibility, where the testimony satisfied Daubert's criteria for reliability (just as expert testimony for the prosecution on the same subject by narcotics officers is so frequently held to do). Of course, the testimony's exclusion was harmless error.

A summary of the opinion in United States v. Vesey, No. 03-1146 (8th Cir. Aug. 5, 2003), and a link to the opinion, may be found here.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.