Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Harmless Error to Exclude Psych Testimony on ADD at Sentencing, Says 7th Circuit

The Seventh Circuit says it was error to exclude testimony at the sentencing phase from a bank fraud defendant's psychologist, who opined that defendant was unable to concentrate on financial matters because he suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder. The district court ruled the testimony inadmissible under Daubert. The Seventh Circuit panel noted that under the sentencing guidelines, any testimony is admissible during sentencing proceedings if it bears "sufficient indicia of reliability" -- a less stringent standard than Daubert imposes. But the error was harmless, according to the panel, because the trial court did actually consider the testimony and legitimately discounted it. See United States v. Ferron, No. 03-1911 (7th Cir. Feb. 9, 2004) (Bauer, Posner, & Easterbrook, JJ.).
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.