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Joseph LaSorsa, CPP

Searches for quality "Security Experts" are conducted on a daily basis by attorneys, V.I.P.�s and corporate executives. Most experts list themselves with referral agencies or expert database web sites. The experts usually list their experience, background and credentials and some of the sites require a fee to be paid by the experts.

Selecting the "right" expert witness is one of the most critical decisions made when preparing a case for settlement and/or trial. The following are topics and considerations which should be addressed in the selection process

  • Expert�s Specific Area of Expertise
  • Inasmuch as, there are thousands of categories of expert witnesses, it is critical to have a full understanding of both the general type of expertise sought and the specific area in which the expert will be asked to opine in. It is very important to determine the specific area of the Expert�s expertise. For example, in general, my expert category of expertise is Security; however, my specific area of expertise is Security Negligence as it relates to Premises Liability. I can also testify as a U.S. Counterfeit Currency Expert and as an Expert in Criminal and Administrative Investigative Protocols, in both the Government and the Private Sector.

  • The Expert�s Background and Qualifications and the Daubert Hearing
  • What is a "Daubert Hearing"?

    • A term from a civil case entitled: Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 113 S. Ct. 2786 (1993)
    • The opinion governs the admissibility of scientific evidence in Federal court and many state and local jurisdictions which have adopted it.
      Daubert Opinion States that:
    • the Federal Rules of Evidence superseded �general acceptance� tests for admissibility of novel scientific evidence;
    • the rigid �general acceptance� test, which arose from Frye v United States, 293 F2d. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), is at odds with the liberal thrust of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

    Daubert Opinion States that:

    • the trial judge must still screen scientific evidence to ensure it is relevant and reliable;
    • "the focus, of course, must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions they generate;"
    • and, factors the court should consider include:
      • � testing and validation
        � peer review
        � rate of error
        � "general acceptance"

    • Characteristics of a "quality" Expert Witness?

      • Practical work experience

        Trial and testifying experience

        Education, Training, licenses and certifications

        Publications and Articles

        Professional Organizations and Affiliations

    • The Expert Should be Credible, Objective and Honest

    • Have a Fair and Reasonable Fee Schedule

    • The Expert Should be Cooperative and able to make himself/herself Available

    • The Expert Must Be Able to Produce a Concise, Well Written Report

    • The report should convey certainty, objectivity, and truth. The Expert should be able to stand by his opinions. He/she should be able to read the jury�s body language and react to it, positively; present a polished, clean appearance; be friendly and at the same time courteously professional; speak clearly and audibly; present a believable appearance; should always make adequate eye contact; appear cool, calm and collected.

    • The Expert Should Be Able to handle Obstacles and Difficult Questions

    • Last, but not Least � The Personal Interview

    • An Expert�s background and credentials are critically important, but nothing should supersede picking the Expert�s brain and putting him/her to the test. Some self-qualified Expert�s can�t really cut the mustard and can be easily weeded out with a few basic questions at the onset of the selection process. Many Security Experts hang their hat simply on their extensive Law Enforcement background. The truth be known, most Law Enforcement agents/officers lack any great deal of security expertise. Most of us in this profession have had to acquire our current expert status rising through the ranks of the Private Sector. There is a major learning curve when a Law Enforcement person retires and transitions into the Private Sector. However, that topic id the subject of separate article.

      If the person conducting the search is not somewhat familiar with the Expert�s area of specific expertise, then, he/she should make a concerted effort to get somewhat up to speed, in order to better prepare themselves for a personal interview of the Expert.

      Once the person responsible for selecting or hiring is comfortable with all of the above factors and considerations, then, he/she can make an intelligent selection decision.

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