Expert Article Library

Medical Testimony On What Constitutes "Legitimate Medical Practice" is Admissible

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

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

Date: December 5, 2006

Expert: Pain Management Expert. Dr. Steven Storick, M.D., anaesthesiologist

Issue: Whether Dr. Storick’s expert testimony against Defendant constituted inadmissible legal opinions.

Summary of case: Defendant was a physician specializing in pain management who prescribed high doses of various opiates to patients, one of whom overdosed on oxycodone. Defendant was investigated by the DEA and charged with unlawful distribution of controlled substances.

Role of the expert: Dr. Storick testified that that Defendant’s treatments and prescriptions for his patients were “outside the course of legitimate medical practice.”

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: On appeal, Defendant claims that Dr. Storick’s testimony violated Fed R. Evid. 704(a) by making a legal opinion that would improperly influence the jury and should be inadmissible. The court ruled that the language used by Dr. Storick was language that “falls within the limited vernacular that is available to express whether a doctor acted outside the bounds of his professional practice.” The language was similar to what the court would use in making a legal conclusion, but “none is sufficiently specialized to render his testimony inadmissible.”

Summary prepared by C. Wood, Student, University of California, Hastings College of the Law