Expert witnesses are routinely used in Divorce cases. Expert testimony covers a wide gamut of topics, including; Financial, such as appraisals or accounting, Counseling, regarding fault grounds or custody, Medical, regarding diagnosis and/or treatment, Attorney Fees and other areas.
Rule 26 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure governs the procedures that litigants must follow in designating expert witnesses. “A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify;”
Each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial,
To state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and
To state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert expected to testify and
A summary of the grounds for each opinion. (MRCP 26 (A)(I)).
Further, “A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement that party’s response with respect to any question directly addressed to…the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which the person is expected to testify, and the substance of the testimony.” (MRCP 26 (f)(1)(B)).
“In regard to matters relating to discovery, the trial court has considerable discretion.” Dawkins v. Redd Pest Control Co., 607 So.2d 1232, 1235 (Miss. 1992).
The Mississippi Court of Appeals has upheld the non-allowance of an expert, not properly disclosed, when the party intending to use the expert did not comply with the Rules of procedure. In Mallet v. Carter, 803 So.2d 504 (Miss. App. 2002), the Plaintiff was prohibited from using an expert, and her case was ultimately dismissed, for dilatory designation of the experts and providing insufficient discovery related to the experts after the time in which to do so had expired.
Expert testimony can be critical to prove certain aspects, even in seemingly routine cases. Make sure that you know who your experts are, why you are using them, what their opinions are , what those opinions are based upon AND disclose all of this information to the other side in a timely fashion.
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and frequently certifies witnesses as experts when necessary and has testified as an expert with regard to attorney fees.
You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.