Expert Article Library

Arresting Police Officers Qualified to Give Expert Testimony about Drug Dealing and Use

Case Name: United States v. Nichols (unpublished)(Click here for the full text of the case)

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit; on appeal from District Court for the for the Southern District of Ohio

Date: July 6, 2006

Expert: Police Officer Experts. Officer Barnes and Officer George

Issues: Did the district court err in treating police officers as expert witnesses.

Summary of case: The defendant, Nichols, was found guilty of various criminal offenses, including possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. Nichols appealed the district court decision, arguing that there was not sufficient evidence to support Counts I and II and that the district court erred in allowing police officers involved in his arrest to act as expert witnesses.

Role of the expert: Officers George and Barnes were involved in the search and arrest of Nichols. They provided expert evidence relating to methods of drug use and dealing.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The defendant argued that the police officers should not have been treated as experts at trial because they lacked experience with regard to drug use and street dealing methods. The Court of Appeals held that the officers were qualified to serve as experts because: both had trained in narcotics and worked in a special narcotics unit; they had a combined job experience of 2½ years; Officer George had investigated at least 80 crack cases; and Officer Barnes had investigated between 60 and 80 crack cases.

Summary prepared by R. Zapparoni.