Hello and welcome back to Attorney Paz’s rants of a criminal defense attorney. This week I want to talk about experts. Read on to learn more about the role of experts in Connecticut criminal cases.
The Role of the Expert
I consult with a lot of experts because a vast majority of the time the state’s allegations of criminal misconduct are rooted in some type of opinion that scientifically the defendant did something. For example, you are arrested for driving under the influence and you take a breath test. Is this breath test scientifically reliable? An expert can attest to this fact.
I have another case where a client was arrested because his eight month old son broke his leg and the only basis for this opinion is the doctor at the hospital said, “Well, his explanation for what happened doesn’t make sense for the injury that was sustained, so it must be abuse.” At that point then I will consult my own expert to see if there is an alternative explanation for how this child’s injury was sustained.
The Problem With Experts
The problem with experts is that when you retain an attorney and you pay my retainer fee, you’re not paying for costs. And costs include experts. So if I tell you, “I’ve evaluated your case and I need to consult with an expert, and I’ll provide you with an estimate as to what those expert fees are to render an opinion,” if you’re unable to afford to pay for that opinion, unfortunately I can’t hire that expert. There are ways to try to petition the court for funding to pay for this out of the public defender’s fund, but a vast majority of the time that will really only be granted if the case is going to a trial, and on the eve of trial you file this motion. I’ve never had this motion granted for a private client before.
There is some case law that suggests that if the client is indigent, even though they have retained private counsel, that the court must grant this motion, I haven’t had it granted though. If you’re a public defender client, these funds automatically come out of the public defender budget. So it’s mainly an issue of who has to pay for this. But, the long and short of it is that if you do not qualify for a public defender, and you have a private attorney, the court will expect you to pay for it. If you can’t pay for it, I can’t retain the expert. Keep in mind that there are criminal cases that are pending that an expert opinion is needed, it’s necessary to battle the case, I wouldn’t tell you it was necessary if it wasn’t. So do your best to try to come up with the funds to retain the expert.
That’s my rant for the day, if you have any questions feel free to email me at [email protected] and as always take care, don’t get arrested, and see you soon.