By Eva Smolen
ALAMEDA, CA – A discussion around the qualifications of admissible evidence dominated the afternoon in Dept. 701 of Alameda County Superior Court Thursday – the prosecution and defense attorneys argued about the dos and don’ts of an expert’s testimony.
At a later court date, there are plans to call on a neurologist as a witness to discuss her opinions on the circumstances of the defendant’s shooting of the victim. Were his actions rooted in fear or anger? In other words, did he act in self-defense or out of malice?
Judge Michael Gaffey engaged in a back and forth with the attorneys, referencing various cases to determine the legitimacy of all possible aspects of this expert’s future testimony.
While the defense counsel advocated for the admission of all possible claims by the expert, the prosecutor requested stricter guidelines as for what would be discussed in front of a jury.
The prosecutor explained that they had no issue with the witness discussing her evaluation of the defendant and the greater effects of their diagnosis.
However, the prosecutor felt that anything nearing hearsay, any information the defendant admitted about his past, his prior diagnoses, or references to other experts’ conclusions were unacceptable.
The prosecutor also requested the neurologist’s opinions in advance so that the prosecution could have an idea as to what they are going to be confronted with when she takes the stand and to limit the number of objections they handle in front of the jury.
The defense responded by explaining that the neurological expert will discuss her opinion on whether the circumstances of the original altercation would have triggered a violent response in the average person.
She will be using her background to provide her view on whether or not the defendant acted in self-defense.
The day in Dept. 701 ended with Judge Gaffey explaining that he will continue reviewing previous cases to find the answer to the attorneys’ concerns in the law.