Why do expert witnesses go unpaid?

Chicago (AP) — Medical experts can order thousands of dollars to testify in US courts, but prosecutors jury that Dr. Martin Tobin hasn’t been paid for him. Emphasized to inform members Thursday appearance Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in a murder trial.

Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at Edward Hines Junior VA Hospital and Loyola University School of Medicine in Illinois, testified: George Floyd Chauvin’s knees were attached to his neck and fixed to the pavement, resulting in a lack of oxygen and his death.

With over 40 years of experience since founding Tobin, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked about his work as an expert witness. Mr. Tobin estimated that he had testified in about 50 proceedings, especially in malpractice cases, but never in criminal cases.

Therefore, Mr. Tobin explained that he was not charging the fee this time.

“Well, when I was asked to cause an incident, uh, I thought I might have some knowledge to help explain how Mr. Floyd died,” he said. It was. “And I’ve never done this kind of work before, so I decided I didn’t want to pay for it.”

This point quickly came up with Rachel Moran, a professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minnesota, as a rare arrangement that could benefit the prosecution team.

She said Blackwell’s decision to raise Tobin when he introduced him to the jury seemed like a clear strategy.

“I think the state is very far ahead,” she said. “This is a well-known medical expert who is not a hired gun. He is just so worried about this issue that he is here to share his expertise for free. I think that’s exactly how they want to paint him. “

According to Moran, experts may offer discounted rates if the criminal defendant is in financial difficulty or because of his narrow discipline.

She and other experts had a hard time appointing another expert witness from the government who refused to pay.

The Chauvin case is rare in many ways.Part of the prosecutor It also works for free and has two lawyers every day in court. Assistant lawyer in general.

Paid expert witnesses are common in court, but lawyers often try to abuse these arrangements. The defense asks the prosecution’s witnesses how much they have been paid, and the prosecutor does the same to the expert presented by the defense.

According to experts, disclosing the testimony early can minimize potential damage to the jury’s position.

The prosecutor asked other witnesses to inform the jury of the fees received for reviewing the case materials and testifying.

Los Angeles Police Department sergeant Jody Steiger, a police force expert, said he received a flat rate of $ 10,000 and an additional $ 2,950 for appearing in court. Dr. Bill Smock, a police surgeon at the Louisville Metro Police Station in Kentucky, also testified Thursday that he charged $ 300 an hour.

Professor Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School said the state decision could have risked another attack from defense. Tobin was so personally invested in the case that he testified for free.

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, asked Tobin to tell the jury his usual fee as an expert witness ($ 500 per hour).

“But did you agree to exempt the hourly wage this time?” Nelson asked. “You felt it was an important case, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Tobin said.

Nelson then used much of his cross-examination to question whether illegal drugs and underlying medical problems caused Floyd’s death.

John Hollway, vice dean of law school at the University of Pennsylvania, said this was also a strategic decision.

Trying to suggest that expert witnesses are prejudiced is effective or “may seem desperate,” Holway said.


Find AP’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death below: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd