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  • Wisconsin Lawyer
    March 31, 2008

    Technology - Using the Web to Research Expert Witnesses

    Learn some strategies and Web sites to consider when looking online for information on expert witnesses.

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 2, February 2004

    Using the Web to Research Expert Witnesses

    Learn some strategies and Web sites to consider when looking online for information on expert witnesses.


    Diane DuffeyDiane Duffey is the librarian at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., Milwaukee. She is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin, which is sponsoring a series of articles on conducting efficient, effective research.

    by Diane Duffey

    "So-called experts are just like us - fallible humans."

    So reads the headline of a recent advice column. Whether one is trying to locate the least fallible expert for one's case, or to unearth the weaknesses of an expert employed by the other side, there are many techniques for conducting expert witness research on the Internet. Further, expert witness directories simply abound on the Web. This article recommends some strategies and Web sites to consider using when looking for information on expert witnesses.

    Finding an Expert for One's Own Case

    Hiring expert witnesses has become a business; thus, searching for one's own expert, in a sense, is similar to searching for a good plumber - the information valued most may be gained by "word of mouth." Referrals from trusted colleagues may carry more weight than what one might find on the Web. This is because what might be found in the Expert-Witnesses-for-Hire Web directories may amount to little more than advertising. There are dozens, probably hundreds, of expert witness directories on the Internet - "Expert Witness Network," "," "The National Registry of Experts," to name only a few. Many directories, such as "Expert Witness," are general directories listing experts in several fields; others list experts in particular areas, such as economics or psychology.

    The Web would not be complete without a portal, or Web guide, to expert witness directories: Astleford's Directory to Expert Witness Directories. While it is not exhaustive, Astleford's does sort directories into three groups for the user: no-fee, fee-based, and international directories. Whether one harvests some promising potential candidates from these directories or obtains suggestions from peers, it is a good idea to research these individuals further. Strategies for researching named experts on the Web are provided later in this article.

    What may be the most useful directories to consult are offered by services that are destined exclusively for either plaintiffs' attorneys or defense attorneys. Sources for defense attorneys include the Defense Research Institute and, the Collaborative Defense Network for Expert Witness Research. Plaintiffs' attorneys can use Trialsmith: Litigation Tools for Plaintiff Lawyers (formerly DepoConnect) and the ATLA Exchange from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. All sites require registration for an annual fee, and at least two of the four require membership in the association. Each of these services provides a directory of experts who attorneys previously have used and evaluated, as opposed to many of the free directories, whose listed individuals are more likely to be "self-listed."

    Many universities also provide a directory of experts among their faculty. In Wisconsin, U.W.-Madison, Marquette University, and U.W.-Milwaukee all feature expert directories as part of their Web sites. These directories are geared mainly toward journalists as opposed to attorneys, but they are good resources for locating an expert.

    Finding Information on a Named Expert

    Once the name of an expert is obtained, there are various resources and strategies for researching that person, whether he or she is an expert witness working for the opposing party or is a potential candidate for one's own side. This involves a thorough search of not only court documents but also any works the expert has authored and the person's professional credentials.

    To get an idea of how often an individual is employed as an expert witness, whether he or she tends to favor working for either the plaintiff or the defense, or if he or she typically is on the side of the successful party, an attorney will want to look for cases in which the expert has testified. Perhaps it goes without saying, but there is no truly comprehensive source for jury verdicts and settlements - online, in print, or anywhere ... although Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis are getting closer to attaining this goal every day. The National Association of State Jury Verdict Publishers' Expert Witness Directory tells which jury verdict publisher to contact to get case summaries for a sizable number of expert witnesses. Verdictsearch is a fee-based service for searching for trial cases on a named individual. The MoreLaw.Com site has an expert witness directory and offers a collection of verdicts; its collection is rather meager, but the case summaries may be accessed at no charge.

    Reading the transcripts of an expert witness's previous testimony is perhaps the best way to determine his or her credibility. Transcripts are not readily available online unless one is a member of one of the organizations that are exclusively for either defense attorneys or plaintiffs' attorneys. For defense attorneys, the Defense Research Institute has its own transcript database; there also is the Idex service. Plaintiffs' attorneys have their own cooperative transcript collections in the Trialsmith and ATLA Exchange services.


    Good sites to visit online to work on compiling a list of books authored by an individual are the big booksellers: the sites of both and Barnes and Noble feature searching by author name and have a vast collection of titles in their databases, including many out-of-print titles. The Library of Congress has made the catalog of its holdings available online as well, at . For citations to scientific articles and lots of other literature by a certain author, the advanced search page of Scirus is helpful. For medical experts, PubMed is good for searching Medline, the index to the majority of medical articles. The author field on PubMed can be searched by entering the person's last name and initials, such as "Duffey DL[au]." LocatorPLUS is the National Library of Medicine's search engine for medical books.

    Curriculum Vitae, Credentials, and News

    Many, but not all, consultants and doctors put their curriculum vitae on the Web through the department of the hospital, clinic, school, or consulting firm where they work. A general search in a search engine such as Google on the expert's name in quotation marks (for example, "Diane L. Duffey" or "Diane Duffey") or a visit to the Web site for the institution or firm with which the expert is affiliated may yield a curriculum vita or at least a Web page with a profile or some general information. If the expert is an engineer, it is possible that he or she has applied for a patent. The patents database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office can be searched. Click on Advanced Search, then type AN/ followed by the expert's name.

    For doctors and other licensed professionals in Wisconsin, certification status and discipline may be verified at the Web site for the State Board of Regulation and Licensing - click on "License Lookup" at the left side of the screen. The American Medical Association (AMA) has a collection of other states' Medical Board sites, which offer varying amounts of information. Wisconsin's Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP), also is searchable online by name; at this site it is possible to see if an individual has been sued in Wisconsin. Some professional organizations make their member directories searchable on the Web, or at least offer contact information for the organizations so that they can be telephoned for a look-up. The AMA provides some professional and contact information on almost all physicians in the nation, even those who are not AMA members, through its searchable Physician Select site.

    Newsgroups, or electronic discussion forums, are good places to find out if anything has ever been mentioned about an expert, or if the person has lent his or her expertise to a newsgroup discussion. The Google site offers a useful search engine for newsgroups. Because reporters often consult experts in a certain area for their articles, it is also worthwhile to search newspapers, especially ones in the city or state in which the expert lives, to see if the individual has been interviewed or quoted. By conducting this kind of search, it may even be possible to find a news report of a case in which the expert has testified. Not all newspapers are fully searchable on the Web, but certain papers such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel do have free access full-text searching for the current year plus the previous four years. Many others have an archive of their articles that are available for purchase. Newslink is a portal to the Web sites for newspapers nationwide, arranged geographically.

    Finding reliable information on experts online is a challenge that requires a good deal of practice in Internet research. Each researcher may develop his or her own tricks and techniques with time. The Web has facilitated the listing of experts and expert information by adding efficient access to data, if one knows where and how to look for it.

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