Wednesday, June 30, 2004

9th Circuit Affirms Exclusion of Testimony from Criminal Defendant's Sociologist

The Ninth Circuit has published an opinion upholding the trial court's exclusion of expert evidence from a sociologist, offered to support a criminal defendant's contention that he was smuggling the drugs under duress. The sociologist would have testified that the defendant's reluctance to approach the Mexican police for help was consistent with general Mexican attitudes toward law enforcement, in view of widespread government corruption and the reach and power of Mexican drug cartels. The panel affirmed the trial court's exclusion of the expert's testimony as more prejudicial than probative. See United States v. Verduzco, No. 03-50044 (9th Cir. June 29, 2004) (Bright, O'Scannlain, & McKeown, JJ.).


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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.