Tag: expert witnesses
  • From a Parent Wrongly Accused of Molesting Her Daughter to Becoming an Attorney, Lessons Learned

    In May 2008 a kindergarten teacher in a small town in Georgia was accused of sexually molesting three children. As a result, she was criminally charged, and she lost custody of her son and daughter. For two years, she was not allowed any contact with her daughter, one of the alleged victims.

    Tonya Craft, the accused teacher, shared her story during a session for investigators at the May 2016 spring public defender and investigator conference. Her presentation focused on the importance of client-centered investigation and representation. As I listened to her story about her criminal case, I heard valuable lessons that I think are relevant for attorneys representing parents in abuse, neglect, and dependency proceedings. Continue Reading

  • Expert Witness Fees as a Civil Cost – An Amendment to the Statute

    I promised to follow up my last post with a discussion of that little change in S.L. 2015-153 to G.S. 7A-314, the witness fee statute. First some background: General Statute 7A-305 sets out the costs assessable in North Carolina civil actions. [Note that liability for costs in a given case is generally determined under G.S. Chapter 6.]   Subsection (d) of 7A-305 lists the expenses of a party that may be recovered as costs. Prior to 2007, there was confusion about whether the list of expenses in 7A-305(d) was exclusive, or whether additional expenses—such as expert witness fees—could also be awarded in the court’s discretion. Then, in July 2007, the statute was amended to make clear that subsection (d) was indeed an exclusive list. The list was also expanded to include several other types of expenses, including “reasonable and necessary fees of expert witnesses solely for actual time spent providing testimony at trial, deposition, or other proceedings.” 7A-305(d)(11)(emphasis added). Soon thereafter, the Court of Appeals held that this very limited category of expert fees could only be awarded if the expert witness was under subpoena.  See Jarrell v. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Hosp. Auth., 206 N.C. App. 559 (2010) (reiterated in Peters v. Pennington, 210 N.C. App. 1 (2011) and Lassiter v. North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., 761 S.E.2d 720 (N.C. App. 2014)) [see comments section below for update].

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  • North Carolina’s Expert Witness Discovery Rule – Changes and Clarifications

    The General Assembly has amended the rule of procedure in civil cases for discovery of information about another party’s expert witness.  North Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4) has largely been unchanged since 1975. With the amendments made by House Bill 376, S.L. 2015-153, the rule updates the methods of disclosing and deposing experts and implements some explicit work-product-type protections. The Rule now looks more like the corresponding provisions in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 (after that Rule’s own significant round of changes in 2010). The changes to North Carolina Rule 26(b)(4) apply to actions commenced on or after October 1, 2015.  The rule now provides the following:

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