Thursday, December 28, 2006

9th Circuit Reverses Exclusion of Medical Testimony in Support of Entrapment Defense

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit published an opinion reversing the trial court's exclusion of medical testimony in a drug conspiracy trial. The defendant relied on an entrapment defense, proffering two experts to opine that he suffered from brain damage rendering him especially susceptible to the entrappers' inducements. The district court excluded the testimony as unreliable and prejudicial. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The admissibility of medical expert testimony, the appellate panel said, should be determined not by reference to a rigid standard of conclusive certainty, but rather according to whether "physicians would accept it as useful and reliable." As for the district court's finding that the testimony would confuse the issues, the panel responded that "predisposition was the issue." See United States v. Sandoval-Mendoza, No. 04-10118 (9th Cir. Dec. 27, 2006) (Goodwin, O'Scannlain, & Kleinfeld, 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.