COLLECTIVE WISDOM: WHETHER TO OBJECT TO THE NOT-SO-QUALIFIED EXPERT

It is rare if ever that a proffered expert will be deemed so unqualified as to be precluded from testifying.  Why?  The threshold for expertise is decidedly low.  To use the Pennsylvania test, “[t]o qualify as an expert witness, a witness need only have a reasonable pretension to specialized knowledge, on a subject for which expert

Masks, Demeanor and Deception

Do mask-wearing witnesses deprive criminal defendants of their right of Confrontation?  Does impairing the ability of jurors and lawyers to fully assess ‘demeanor’ result in less reliable trials?  Can jury selection be fair of prospective jurors’ faces are covered?   Or is this all a Shakespearean “much ado about nothing” because we – the great majority

CONFRONTATION LAW CONFUSION AND CONVENTIONS

The landmark holding Crawford v. Washington, now sixteen years old, changed the framework for challenging hearsay offered against the accused in a criminal case – if the hearsay was “testimonial” in nature it is admissible only under one of two conditions: The declarant will ultimately appear at trial and thus be subject to cross-examination regarding

“They did something similar before” – prior acts, character, and self-defense

In a recent (October, 2019) manslaughter trial in Philadelphia, the jury heard a lot about the victim, information not limited to conduct at the time of the fight that led to his death.  The jury heard, as an early defense witness, a bartender from Florida.  Although the death occurred in 2018, the jury heard about