Vol. 77, No. 2, February
Using the Web to Research Expert Witnesses
Learn some strategies and Web sites to consider when looking online
for information on expert witnesses.
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," "Experts.com,"
"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
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 Idex.com, 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
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 Amazon.com 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
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
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.