When Expert Witnesses Disagree, 'Hot-Tubbing' is a Possible Solution

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When expert witnesses have opposing views of the same evidence, even the judge can be daunted.

And, unfortunately, the American system of having each side hire its own expert too often creates such a situation. But approaches used in other countries, if tried here, could help eliminate such routine disagreements among experts, reports the New York Times.

In many other countries, for starters, parties don’t hire their own experts, the newspaper writes. Instead, the court appoints a “neutral” expert.

Australia, however, has successfully pursued a different path toward resolution: “hot-tubbing.” Putting the experts together and allowing them to question each other, rather than making their reports in isolation, can eliminate many disagreements. The Australian approach also accords with the established American system of allowing each side to present its own case.

“Assuming the judge has an active interest in ferreting out the truth and the experts are candid, I prefer the hot-tubbing option,” says Joe Cecil of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. “But those are two bold assumptions, and the procedure drives the attorneys nuts.”

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