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An Expert or an “Opinionater”

I know it is hard to believe, but I am truly starting the blog with a picture that is related to the subject matter. I know… that is some crazy blogging!

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Please fight through the blog today because there really is a purpose. I mean it!

This is probably more of a sports blog… because I wanted to write about the upcoming NFL draft. But, I am writing it in the context of law.

(Here we go…talking some legal) To be qualified as an expert in a jury trial, you have to be qualified to give an opinion that is beyond common knowledge. The Virginia jury instruction tells jurors:

In considering the weight to be given to the testimony of an expert witness, you should
consider the basis for the opinion and the manner by which the expert arrived at it and the
underlying facts and data relied upon.

Which leads me to the the concept of “experts” as it pertains to NFL football drafting.  (And yes, I do enjoy using the “emphasis quotes” which is probably as irritating as seeing someone using “air quotes” when they talk) Football fans know that it’s almost time for the NFL draft. My email in-box is being targeted with all kinds of offers to buy draft information, and sports sites are filled with updates and predictions on who will be drafted in the first round. These “experts” all have their opinions.

So let’s travel back to 1998. It’s the draft and the Indianapolis Colts are on the clock with the first pick. Do they pick Peyton Manning or do they pick Ryan Leaf. Well, here is Vic Carucci’s thoughts on who to pick:

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Carucci’s opinion that the Colts should select Leaf is actually laughable now. The reason I post this scouting report is to show that experts can be absolutely wrong. He missed it here.

Recently I watched an ESPN 30 for 30 episode about the 1993 NFL draft. The year that John Elway was drafted first. During that ESPN documentary, we are reminded of their draft expert, Paul Zimmerman, who proudly proclaimed that it was a mistake for the Miami Dolphins to draft Dan Marino. “I don’t understand it”

He went on to say that no one was there to coach him and that it was a mistake for the Dolphins to draft him. They had other needs. That was his draft expert opinion.

I close with the thought that I have seen more expert opinion that should really be more”Opinionater” than expert. In trial, I see defense experts making the proclamation that someone needs no more treatment and has no permanent injury… after only seeing medical records and not even seeing the person.

I had one defense expert tell me under oath that he felt more qualified to give an opinion after not seeing my client, because this made sure that he was not impacted by any bias. Solely basing his opinion on the records. Of course, he smirked when I asked him if he refused to see patients in his office… because meeting them would cause a bias of his treatment. Boom! That is no expert opinion. That is silliness.

And for pic o’ day… I think this qualifies as good expert advice!

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Expert Testimony

I missed the blog yesterday because we couldn’t get the platform to work. To work isn’t really the technical reason but that’s why we had to bring in the computer experts to fix it.

Most of our cases involve hiring experts to testify about the facts or medical treatment in the case. The legal definition of an expert is basically someone who has more knowledge or training on a specific topic than the average person. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of “expertise” to be qualified as an expert.

In a recent case, we hired an engineer to give us an opinion about a piece of equipment. In discussing his expertise, we learned that he and his group had recently been experts in a football case.

That piqued my interest. Couldn’t help but ask about the case. Then I learned from one of our attorneys in the office that this expert had also been involved in “Deflate-gate”. He and his group had been retained by NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s defense team, to give an opinion regarding whether those footballs in the AFC Championship game could naturally have lost pressure.

After I heard that, it caused me to recall the words of one juror who said to me after one trial a while back, “we didn’t pay much attention to the experts on either side. We listened to the parties and decided the case on their testimony, because we just expected the experts to say what the attorneys wanted”.

If every jury thinks like that, it sure puts evidence into perspective. It also gives confidence that cases should really come down to whether the jury believes the plaintiff or the defendant. Despite what silly tort reformers say, I still think that juries are much smarter than what some people give them credit for knowing.

As a Colts fan, I am amazed if anyone believes that the atmosphere caused the Patriots’ footballs to deflate… while the Colts remained the same. Come on!

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would go with some workout motivation:

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