Expert Article Library

New York Detective can be both Expert and Witness in Drug Dealer Case

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

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Date: March 02,2005

Expert: Criminal Expert. Patricia Rodriguez, New York City Detective

Issues: Whether a factual witness can also be an expert witness in a criminal case.

Summary of case: In a prosecution for selling narcotics, the expert witness testified regarding techniques used by drug dealers at different areas of distribution. Rodriguez was also used as a factual witness, in identifying a particular defendant.

Role of the expert: To explain to the jury the basic structure of the drug-dealing enterprise to establish how the defendant fit into the overall distribution model.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The defendant objected to the witness being used as an expert and a factual witness, arguing that the dual role confused the jury. The court found that the dual role was allowed because the testimonies were clearly divisible. Because her testimony was brief and the defendant’s attorneys vigorously tested the accuracy of her factual statements, there was no abuse of discretion.

Summary prepared by Christopher P. Stafford, Student, Golden Gate University, School of Law