I have just finished writing a column about a new Web tool that every trial lawyer who uses expert witnesses should look at. I cannot post the entire column until it appears in print, but I can offer a preview.
As any trial lawyer will tell you, getting expert testimony admitted has been tougher since 1993, when the Supreme Court decided in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals that scientific testimony must be not only relevant, but reliable. In 1999’s Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, the court extended that rule to all experts. This means that a lawyer preparing to qualify or challenge an expert at trial must not only be well versed in the current Daubert case law, but also aware of how the particular expert fared in any prior court challenges. Keeping up with these cases is no easy task. MDEX Online, a medical-legal consulting firm headquartered in Chicago, estimates there are more than 4,000 trial and appellate opinions interpreting and applying Daubert and its offspring.
That led MDEX to develop a tool to help lawyers track these cases and, in particular, find out how specific experts or areas of expertise fared in the courts. Called The Daubert Tracker, its central feature is a database of all reported Daubert and Kumho decisions, trial and appellate, backed up when available by full-text briefs, transcripts and docket entries.
The service, launched in August 2002, is composed of five distinct products:
– The searchable database of all reported cases.
– Core documents – docket sheets, briefs and transcripts – for each case.
– An e-mail update of new cases from the previous week.
– A quarterly journal with articles by trial attorneys, law professors, judges and experts.
– A series of “Web lectures” delivered by authorities on Daubert and scientific evidence.
A key area in which the The Daubert Tracker distinguishes itself from other case law databases, MDEX CEO Myles Levin said in an interview, is that even if the case never mentions the expert’s name or expertise, The Daubert Tracker provides it. “We track down the name of the expert even if it is not mentioned in the case. Also, we accurately assign a discipline. We don’t take for granted the judge’s characterization of the discipline.”
A year subscription is $495 with discounts for multiple users. You can instead purchase a two-hour session for $25. The subscription includes the case law database, the e-mail update and the quarterly journal. Core documents and Web lectures cost extra. Briefs are $20 each for subscribers and $40 for others. Transcripts are $30 for subscribers and $60 for others. Documents and transcripts not in the database can be ordered for $35 to $60. Lectures are $47.50 to subscribers, $95 to others.
The Daubert Tracker is not without its shortcomings, but overall it is a useful tool for trial lawyers. It is easy to use and understand, and provides precise information about expert witnesses not easily found elsewhere. And at $25 for a two-hour session, a lawyer would be remiss not to try a check of an expert.
I will publish my full review later. Until then, try the site’s free demo.