Puppy…companion …expert witness?

Which of these things should not be found on Craiglist?  Craigslist is not the place to advertise for experts.

by Kristin Baldwin, the Baldwin Network

Almost every day, I receive a Google Alert on the keyword “expert witness”.  About once a week, a Craigslist ad for an expert appears on the alert. While most are not as outrageous as the one below, they can be just egregious in terms of violating expert witness ethical standards. While I trust that PN2FEW members would not allow themselves to be hired off a Craigslist ad, it does teach us some valuable lessons.  so bear with me – and we will go down the list.

  1. How easy would it be to impeach the expert if the hiring lawyer did all of the research and came up with the conclusions?  I can see the opposing party finding the list of researched articles and easily knocking down the expert’s argument in a deposition.  There is a less than 1% chance that the expert would even be allowed to testify at trial.
  2. How can you be considered an expert if the hiring criteria are so loose?  The ad is basically asking for a warm body – any warm body would do (I would make a crack about Craiglist and their other categories but I will refrain.)  If the expert didn’t observe the issue – they run into violating Federal Rule 703. “An expert may base an opinion on facts or data in the case that the expert has been made aware of or personally observed.”
  3. How can an expert run a conflicts check on the case on so little information?  I hope every expert runs a conflict check and conduct due diligence to ensure the hiring attorney has a good reputation and isn’t about to be disbarred, pays their experts or hasn’t had sanctions levied in this case.
  4. Your credibility should also be vetted by the hiring attorney.  If you simply answered the ad, and they hired you based on their loose standards – how can they make sure that you aren’t violating Federal Rule 702?  – This rule prevents you from parroting their strange theories that may not be based on current scientific thinking or research.  Based on the information in this ad – you could just tout whatever you felt like at the time.

Advertising for an expert on Craiglist violates many professional ethical canons on behalf of the lawyer and the expert.  Experts can make and break a case if the lawyer isn’t careful about the selection and preparation.

If you were my client or a member of this association, I would advise you strongly to never answer these ads, no matter how desperate you are to build your CV.

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