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  • Areas of Expertise

  • Areas of Expertise

    Areas of Expertise of Testifying Experts

    In 1998, the Federal Judicial Center surveyed federal judges about their experiences with expert testimony in civil cases. In both the judge and attorney surveys, we asked respondents to describe the types of experts who testified and the issues addressed by their testimony. Using the descriptions given by respondents, we then re-coded them into specific categories of experts.

    Medical and mental health specialists were the most frequently presented category of experts, accounting for more than 40% of the experts presented overall. More specifically, medical doctors (from all specialties) accounted for approximately one-third of all experts presented. This frequency is not surprising in light of the large number of tort cases represented in the survey responses. Within this group, the specific types most frequently represented were treating physicians, surgeons, and psychiatrists (each 3.8% of the total experts). Mental health experts, particularly clinical psychologists, but also including social workers and counselors, accounted for almost 4% of the experts presented.

    Engineers and other safety or process specialists accounted for 24% of the experts presented, making them the second-most-frequent category of experts. The most frequent type of engineering testimony came from mechanical or industrial engineers, who accounted for nearly 5% of experts overall.

    Experts from business, law, and financial specialties made up the next-most-frequent category of experts, accounting for 22% of all experts. By far the largest type within this group was economists, who were the most frequently used type of expert overall, representing almost 11% of all experts. Accountants were also presented frequently, making up more than 3% of all experts.

    Experts from scientific specialties accounted for slightly more than 7% of all experts. In this group, chemists were the most frequent type, representing 1.6% of the total number of experts.

    Overall, these results are quite consistent with those from a 1991 FJC survey of federal judges regarding experts in civil cases. As with the 1998 survey, medical and mental health specialists were the most frequent general category in the 1991 survey (around 40% of the total), followed by safety/process/engineering experts (26%) and business/law/financial experts (about 26%). Experts from scientific specialties in the earlier survey amounted to 8% of the total, consistent with the current survey. As with the current survey, economists were the most frequent specific type of testifying expert.

    This information came from an
    FJC online article.

    *** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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