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G530
Expert Witness Testimony- Dos and Don'ts

Semih Genculu, P.E.

Forensic engineering is the application of engineering and science to criminal and civil laws. It involves investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property. The consequences of such failures are dealt with utilizing the law of product liability. An expert witness is a person whose opinion by virtue of education, training, certification, skills or experience is accepted by the judge as an expert. The judge may consider the witness's specialized (scientific, technical or other) opinion about evidence or about facts before the court within the expert's area of expertise, referred to as an "expert opinion". Expert's testimony may be rebutted by testimony from other experts or by other evidence or facts.

The expert has a great responsibility, and perjury by an expert is a punishable crime.

An expert testifying in a United States federal court must satisfy the requirements of Federal Rules of Evidence 702. Generally, under Rule 702, an expert is a person with "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge" who can "assist the trier of fact," which is typically a jury. The Federal Rules of Evidence use the Daubert Test.

Engineers are usually hired by attorneys to study some sort of problem and provide professional opinions as to the technical aspects of a particular case. A witness who is being offered as an expert must first establish his or her competency in the relevant field through an examination of his or her credentials. The opposing attorney is permitted to question the witness about their backgrounds and qualifications, and challenge their opinions before being allowed to present their expert testimony in court. If qualified by the court, then the expert may testify "in the form of an opinion or otherwise" so long as: (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.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

AIA Members: You must take the courses listed under the category "AIA/CES Registered Courses" if you want us to report your Learning Units (LUs) to AIA/CES. If you take courses not registered with AIA/CES, you need to report the earned Learning Units (not qualified for HSW credits) using Self Report Form provided by AIA/CES.

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