Technical Lecture: "Expert Witness Work and the Role in Forensic Investigations"
Wednesday December 3, 2014
On the evening of 3rd December there was a capacity audience of around seventy people assembled in the lecture theatre of Arup’s New York office to hear David Caiden (chair of ICE Americas Sub-Committee) talk about carrying out Expert Witness work. The talk was co-presented by ASCE Metropolitan Forensics Group and ICE’s New York Local Association.
The talk comprised two parts titled “Part A: Expert Witness Work – some basics you need to know” and “Part B: Expert Witness work for Forensic Engineers”. Part B of the talk was prepared by James Cohen PE MASCE who, owing to a family bereavement, was unable to attend so David Caiden covered both subjects speaking for about an hour. This was followed by some lively questions (both from David to the audience as a learning test in compliance with the Professional Development Hours certification requirement) and from the audience to David.
David opened the first part with a “pop quiz” where the audience was asked to shout out what it was that Americans do (outside the subjects of food and guns) more than any other peoples. Many people knew the correct answer was “litigate”! He then ran through the history of how Expert Witness work had changed in Britain and explained the development of the Woolf reforms and the Civil Procedures Rules leading into a comparison of the differences from Expert Witness work in the USA. Explaining how the Deposition process works in US litigation he distributed guidance notes on how to prepare for a deposition which can be a very stressful experience.
He summarized the qualities required to be an Expert Witness and then led into Part B with another “pop quiz” asking the audience what is was that Forensic Engineers and homicide detectives have in common. Aided by a picture of René Descartes, who one attendee correctly recognized, the audience got the correct answer of “the search for the truth”. He then followed with an explanation of the duties of a forensic engineer explaining along the way the differences between civil and criminal cases.