Hindman & Lanzon Hindman & Lanzon
Call for a Free Consultation
865-223-6450

expert testimony Archives

Expert Testimony Must be Relevant to be Admissible

Qualified expert testimony may be admissible by either side in a criminal trial in Tennessee when the trial court determines it may substantially assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or deciding a material issue. When determining whether scientific evidence is reliable enough to be of assistance, trial courts in Tennessee consider how the evidence has been tested, whether it has been subject to peer review, whether a rate of error is known, and whether it is generally accepted in the scientific community. It of course also must be relevant to be of assistance to the trier of fact. In the recent case of State v. Adams, M2014-00501-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 6-19-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling disallowing a DUI defendant's offered expert testimony concerning the effect of freon contamination of the blood on a preservative used to preserve a blood sample for testing alcohol content.

Expert Testimony Not Admissible to Establish "Heat of Passion"

Expert testimony may be used in criminal trials in Tennessee when it can substantially assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact at issue. It is not uncommon for there to be evidentiary disputes about whether a particular expert's testimony on a particular subject does that. A trial court judge, guided by legal precedent, must ultimately determine whether particular expert testimony will be admissible. Then the trier of fact (a jury in most criminal trials) must determine how much weight to afford that evidence. In Tennessee criminal trials for first degree premeditated murder, the defense may present expert testimony regarding the defendant's mental state only if the expert testimony can conclude that the defendant 1) suffered from a specific mental disease or defect; and 2) was unable to form premeditation as a result of that mental disease or defect. If the proffered expert(s) on the defendant's mental state does not reach both these conclusions, the testimony will be inadmissible. Additionally, the expert may not testify on the question of whether he or she believes the defendant experienced "sufficient provocation" or acted in the "heat of passion," as those determinations are not scientific or medical conclusions.

Expert Testimony Not Admissible to Establish "Heat of Passion"

Expert testimony may be used in criminal trials in Tennessee when it can substantially assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact at issue. It is not uncommon for there to be evidentiary disputes about whether a particular expert's testimony on a particular subject does that. A trial court judge, guided by legal precedent, must ultimately determine whether particular expert testimony will be admissible. Then the trier of fact (a jury in most criminal trials) must determine how much weight to afford that evidence. In Tennessee criminal trials for first degree premeditated murder, the defense may present expert testimony regarding the defendant's mental state only if the expert testimony can conclude that the defendant 1) suffered from a specific mental disease or defect; and 2) was unable to form premeditation as a result of that mental disease or defect. If the proffered expert(s) on the defendant's mental state does not reach both these conclusions, the testimony will be inadmissible. Additionally, the expert may not testify on the question of whether he or she believes the defendant experienced "sufficient provocation" or acted in the "heat of passion," as those determinations are not scientific or medical conclusions.

map map

Hindman & Lanzon
550 West Main Street
Suite 550
Knoxville, TN 37902

Toll Free: 866-383-1545
Phone: 865-223-6450
Fax: 865-521-6371
Knoxville Law Office Map