More from the expert wars: The American Academy of Emergency Medicine has launched a web project asking members "to submit cases in which expert witness testimony was remarkable enough to be publicized. Examples of such testimony may seem farfetched, unbelievable or just plain wrong. Other testimony may be succinct, insightful or particularly helpful." The idea is apparently to draw on shame or applause as components of informal peer review.
The academy also has a position statement on ethics in medical testimony, which demands that "at all times" an expert witness offering testimony must "not advocate for the party who engages him or her as an expert witness" It also goes on to prescribe to the witness a "duty to confer" when so requested by a court, which Louise Andrew of the Coalition and Center for Ethical Medical Testimony says may be unique of its sort:
Duty to Confer
At the direction of the court, an expert witness will confer with other witnesses toattempt to reach agreement on matters within the field of expertise of the expert witnesses;
prepare and sign a joint witness statement describing matters of agreement and disagreement among the witnesses, along with the reasons for disagreement.
In following the court's direction, the expert must exercise independent and professional judgment and must not act on the instructions or directions of any person to withhold or avoid agreement.
And Tresa Baldas of the National Law Journal has some reaction from the bar to the efforts by the American Academy of Neurology (see Dec. 14) to crack down on unqualified or inaccurate testimony in that specialty. Among lawyers quoted is New York med-mal defense attorney Michael Shalhoub, who "said that too often he has handled cases where plaintiffs' experts blatantly advocate for the plaintiffs, using terms like 'we' and 'our position.'"