Database of Experts
This database includes state and defense experts searchable by name or area of expertise. The list was compiled based upon the experts' appearance or work in prior cases, and is not based on any assessment of whether an expert is the appropriate expert for a specific case. If you are searching for an expert to retain you must do your own due diligence to evaluate the expert. Information on experts is updated regularly. However, many of the areas of expertise were borrowed from other sources' data and are thus imperfect. Please email Sarah Rackley Olson at Sarah.R.Olson@nccourts.org to correct or update any information about experts.
Included in this database are experts from North Carolina and other states. North Carolina experts are listed first, followed by experts from all other states. Click here for IDS Expert Fee and Expense Policies. Please note that funding requests for out-of-state experts may require special justification for the additional costs.
CLICK ON EACH CATEGORY BELOW TO VIEW ADDITIONAL AREAS OF EXPERTISE:
- Digital Evidence
- Drug Chemistry and Toxicology
- Breathalyzer/BAC Experts
- Forensic Chemistry Experts
- Pharmacology Experts
- Substance Abuse Experts
- Toxicology Experts
- Field Operations and Other (crime scene investigation, arson, polygraph, etc.)
- Accident Reconstruction Experts
- Accounting Experts
- Arson Experts
- Bitemark Experts
- Blood Spatter Experts
- Confessions Experts
- Crime Scene Interpretation Experts
- Document Examination/Handwriting Experts
- Eyewitness Identification Experts
- Police Procedure Experts
- Polygraph Experts
- Fingerprint and Other Impression Evidence
- Firearms and Toolmarks
- Forensic Biology and DNA
- Mental Health, Development, Medical/Pathology, and Abuse
- Child Abuse Experts - Medical
- Child Abuse Experts - Psychological
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Experts
- Lead Experts
- Medical Experts
- Mental Retardation Experts
- Neurology Experts
- Neuropsychiatry Experts
- Neuropsychology Experts
- Pathology Experts
- Psychiatry Experts
- Psychology Experts
- Sexual Abuse Experts
- Special Education Experts
- Substance Abuse Experts
- Trace Evidence
- Search by Expert Last Name - try searching with only the first two letters of the expert's last name if you are uncertain of the spelling.
Guide to Working with Experts
- Review your case, client's records (medical, educational, etc.), and discovery prior to contacting experts. This will help you determine exactly what type of expert assistance is needed and have a more productive conversation with an expert.
- Do not engage a mental health expert before obtaining substantial social history records (click here for a list of potential records to collect), unless the client is floridly psychotic upon you entry into the case. See IDS Policy on the Effective Use of Mental Health Experts in Potentially Capital Cases.
- Educate yourself on the issues. Consult the IDS Forensics website for information on topics of forensic science, such as DNA, firearms, fingerprints, death investigation, etc. Scholarly articles are available such as Google Scholar and PubMed.
- Do you need an expert?
- Is the forensic evidence adverse to the defense theory of the case?
- Do you need evidence re-tested?
- Are you critiquing the state's testing of the evidence?
- Even if the State is not using an expert, consider whether there are affirmative uses of experts that would support your theory of the case, such as crime scene experts, use of force experts, or mental health experts.
Finding an Expert:
- Don't wait until the last minute - your desired expert may not be available. Any expert will need time to review your case prior to forming an opinion.
- Consider consulting with Sarah Rackley Olson, Forensic Resource Counsel or Elaine Gordon, Trial Resource Counsel for additional ideas about what type of expert to use.
- Know what particular expertise you need before you start making phone calls: i.e., rather than looking for a "DNA expert," consider whether you need an expert on DNA mixtures, an expert who can challenge contamination, or an expert who can challenge the statistical computation.
- Consider the role of the expert: Do you need an expert to assist in evaluating the quality of the evidence? To explain the science to you or to the jury? Do you need an expert to develop mitigation evidence or to establish a defense such as self-defense or diminished capacity? Will assistance require access to a laboratory? Can a professor or academic fulfill the role or do you need a practicing analyst or scientist? Is the expert willing to testify?
Research the Expert:
- You should research your potential expert as thoroughly as you would research a State's witness that you are preparing to cross-examine.
- Review his/her CV. Do not assume that just because the expert has been used frequently that he/she has been properly vetted.
- Utilize disciplinary boards if available. If an expert lists a particular license or certification, see if that organization posts disciplinary information online.
- Ask the expert about any certifications or professional qualifications attempted - has the expert taken any certification exams or other professional exams that he/she has not passed? This website can be used to check to see whether an MD is certified in a particular specialty.
- Seek references on listserves, with the IDS Forensic Resource Counsel, NACDL Resource Center, American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), other lawyers, other experts and competitors, universities, and publicly-funded laboratories.
- Search LexisNexis and/or Westlaw for cases in which the expert testified.
- Click here for additional information on how to research an expert online.
Guide to your first conversation with the expert:
- Be able to explain to the expert what work you need performed, including specific referral questions you would like addressed if working with a mental health expert. Never ask a mental health expert simply to “evaluate” your client without providing specific guidance. Do not assume that the expert already knows what constitutes a potential defense or mitigating factor. Sometimes an expert who has not received proper guidance will tell an attorney that his or her evaluation has turned up nothing useful, when in fact the expert simply does not have the legal expertise to know what is useful and what is not.
- Get the expert to provide you with a copy of his/her CV.
- Discuss with the expert anticipated hours of work needed, any re-testing needed, any travel required in order to prepare a request for adequate funding. Discuss AOC's rate schedule (see p. 2), and prepare justification if the expert requires a deviation from the rate schedule.
- Discuss any potential conflicts with the expert due to co-defendants, scheduling, or any other professional or personal matter that would adversely affect the expert's work/testimony in the case.
- Verify that your expert will be able to testify. Do not assume that testimony will not be needed or promise your expert that testimony will not be needed.
- Your expert will need lab reports and the underlying data in order to analyze the evidence.
- Can your expert explain his/her conclusions clearly and understandably?
- Consider non-verbal communication: arrogance, bias, appearing defensive, organized, prepared, etc.
- Considerations to discuss with expert
- Position currently held.
- Description of the subject matter of the expert's specialty.
- Specializations within that field.
- What academic degrees are held and from where and when obtained.
- Specialized degrees and training.
- Licensing in field, and in which state(s).
- Length of time licensed.
- Length of time practicing in this field.
- Board certified as a specialist in this field.
- Length of time certified as a specialist.
- If certifications/proficiency tests/etc have been attempted, history of results.
- Positions held since completion of formal education, and length of time in each position.
- Duties and function of current position.
- Length of time at current position.
- Specific employment, duties, and experiences.
- Teaching or lecturing in the relevant field, dates and location of teaching.
- Publications in this field and titles.
- Membership in professional societies/associations/organizations, and special positions in them.
- Requirements for membership and advancement within each of these organizations.
- Honors, acknowledgments, and awards received by expert in the field.
- Who is considered "the best" in the field?
- Number of times testimony has been given in court as an expert witness in this field. (Case names and transcripts, if available.)
- How has the expert's testimony been treated in the past? Did the expert appear balanced, knowledgeable, and credible? Has the expert ever not been qualified as an expert? Why?
- Is there any personal or professional information that the attorney should be aware of that may be used as impeachment material or to disqualify this expert?
- Availability for consulting to any party, state agencies, law enforcement agencies, defense attorneys.
The Mechanics of Getting Your Own Expert
The powerpoint and materials from Caitlyn Fenhagan and Sarah Rackley Olson's May 2012 presentation at the School of Government's Public Defender Conference are located here. The presentation and materials will walk you through the steps you should take to identify experts and obtain funding for the appointment of an expert in an indigent case. Included in the materials are the relevant NC General Statutes, IDS rules, AOC and IDS forms and policies, sample motions, cases and an excerpt from the NC Defender Manual on Experts and Other Assistance.
- Click here to access AOC-G-309 - Application and Order for Defense Expert Witness Funding in Non-Capital Criminal and Non-Criminal Cases at the Trial Level
- Click here to access Form IDS-028 - Ex Parte Request for Expert Funding Potentially Capital Cases at the Trial Level
Articles and Publications
- Remote Testimony and Related Procedures Impacting a Criminal Defendant's Confrontation Rights - This bulletin by Jessica Smith of UNC School of Government discusses the viability of remote two-way video testimony in light of Crawford v. Washington and Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts and examines other alternatives.
- Confrontation Clause Update: Williams v. Illinois and What It Means for Forensic Reports - This bulletin by Jessica Smith of UNC School of Government examines Williams v. Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court's latest case applying Crawford to forenisc reports.
Motions for Appointment of Forensic Expert (Non-Capital Cases)
An indigent defendant's right to expert assistance rests primarily on the due process guarantee of fundamental fairness. The leading case is Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 76 (1985), in which the Supreme Court held that the failure to provide an expert to an indigent defendant deprived him of a fair opportunity to present his defense and violated due process. North Carolina cases, both before and after Ake, recognize that fundamental fairness requires the appointment of an expert at state expense upon a proper showing of need. See, e.g., State v. Tatum, 291 N.C. 73 (1976).
G.S. 7A-450(b) provides that an indigent defendant is entitled to the assistance of counsel and other "necessary expenses of representation." Necessary expenses include expert assistance. See State v. Tatum, 291 N.C. 73 (1976); G.S. 7A-454 (authorizing services in accordance with IDS Rules).
Courtesy of John Rubin and Alyson Grine, North Carolina Defender Manual, Vol. 1, Pretrial, Second Edition 2009. See Ch. 5: Experts and Other Assistance for further discussion.