Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Debate on Sequestering Expert Witnesses

You are probably aware of the occasional but rarely used practice of sequestering jury members (it happens more in the movies than in real life). But the recent alleged actions of attorney Carla J. Martin in the terrorism trial of Zacarias Moussaoui have sparked a debate on the possible sequestration of expert witnesses in future trials.

Martin is accused of improperly contacting several aviation safety experts in violation of standard practices and of Judge Brinkema's order for witnesses not to follow court proceedings or discuss them with each other until all had testified. The entire trial of Moussaoui is now in question.

In response to calls for expert witness sequestration, Peter Nordberg of is skeptical of the idea because:

"... any benefit from sequestration is considerably diluted, at least in federal court, by the requirement, in both civil and criminal proceedings, that any expert testimony be disclosed in advance of trial..."

His comments prompted quite an interesting debate on his Blog 702 - scroll down to the March 16th post to read his original comments and the resulting responses.

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