Ninth Circuit Reverses Decision to Prohibit Expert Witness Testimony on Police Practices


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Police practices have become aggressive and brutal in the age of electronics where everything is recorded and broadcast to the public. Expert witnesses are necessary to explain these situations and how the individual officers are either at fault or are innocent of the actions he or she has been blamed for.

Through the Ninth Circuit court, it is possible for expert witnesses to testify about and on police practices. These are often due to brutality or aggressive actions taken by the law enforcement agents. Tasers and clubs used could damage the body when used inappropriately or unnecessarily in certain situations. The decision to permit these professionalsí testimony may have become necessary due to the increase and influx of these incidents reported. Providing experts the ability to supply testimony in the courtroom may increase awareness of certain practices that should or should not occur. Working with the lawyer, these circumstances may change what happens in the future.

Experts in Police Procedure

Experts in policer procedure explain to the courtroom how brutality is not usually what occurs with an officer and the accused. If there is suspicion that he or she has committed a crime, an arrest is possible. However, violence and aggressive behavior are usually excluded from the scene. Only when there is an imminent threat of harm to the police is any aggressive stance usually issued. Batons, tasers and guns are hardly drawn barring any similar weapons used by the perpetrator. The department runs drills so that only the appropriate response happens during an incident.

Experts that hired for police brutality and aggressive activity claims often have experience with departments or worked for law enforcement previously. Their knowledge of procedure is important to explain to the courtroom why compensation is necessary. However, opposing legal counsel may hire an expert that refutes these claims. He or she may explain that action taken were within acceptable parameters for the situation. It is then important to detail what procedure is and how it affects the circumstances of the incident. A law enforcement officer could become another witness to confirm what is reasonable and fair action to take.

Reversal Decision

Through careful consideration numerous factors, the Ninth Circuit court determined that expert witness testimony in police practices for various cases is necessary. This decision is based on current claims and litigation against police through injury and death. Exclusion of an expert witness in these situations could harm the case, lead to additional injury and impact future litigation processes. Many victims harmed through police practices have come forward to seek justice for the actions taken in their incidents. With these persons, it becomes a race against time for the statute of limitations based on the states where these events took place.

With the reversal of this decision, many experts are able to provide testimony in additional cases. Police practices are not always scrutinized, and this could lead to injury or death of civilians. The law enforcement departments are often given a broad permission to affect their own procedures without a greater oversight. However, with experts explaining these processes, the judge and jury are better informed of what should usually occur during an arrest or interrogation of someone on the street. Any deviation from this may remove the police department as liable and only hold the individual police officer accountable for his or her actions.

The Experts Testimony in Police Practices

The professional has the task of explaining standard procedure. The reasonable and fair assessment and use of force is important. Practices that police drill into officers involve keeping sidearms and other weapons away from suspects unless equal or greater force may be present with him or her. Even then, communication and a calm demeanor are more important than taking out a gun and attempting to stop a crime in progress. For an arrest, these methods are usually not present. The officer is not usually permitted the ability to use a gun or baton unless similar danger is present.

The expert explains these matters in the courtroom. His or her testimony used in this manner helps the courtroom understand why compensation is necessary for the victim. It also clears up why the accused started a lawsuit. His or her circumstances should not happen based on these usual police practices. In ordinary situations, an officer would not attack a suspect without reasonable cause. The presence of a weapon or imminent attack is necessary in general incidents.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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