Saturday, August 06, 2005

8th Circuit Upholds Exclusion of Testimony re Defendant's Religious Beliefs

The Eighth Circuit has published an opinion upholding the trial court's exclusion of expert testimony from a professor of religious studies. The testimony was offered by the defendant in a money-laundering prosecution to prove the sincerity of his professed religious beliefs. It was excluded as irrelevant. See United States v. Nichols, No. 04-1059 (8th Cir. Aug. 5, 2005) (Smith, Heaney, & Colloton, 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.