Favors New Rules for Expert Testimony


The new rules for expert testimony, reported in "Tougher Rules for Expert Witnesses" ( JofA , Feb.99, page 11), should help the profession.

A problem not addressed is the use of the word "expert." Many CPAs are called upon as experts. In one case I witnessed, a CPA was used by litigation counsel as an expert in an international tax-related case. The case had no merit, and the jury vote of 12 to 0 for acquittal in five minutes was testimony to the fact that the trial was a huge waste of time. For the companies involved, the financial cost was significant.

Litigation counsel can always find CPAs willing to comment on issues about which they have no defined expertise. Even though their testimony may eventually be discounted by a jury, many CPAs still lend themselves to the "expert for hire" tactic to generate fees. Litigation, therefore, often seems justified during a trial's early stages because an "expert" has testified on the matter.

While not technically unethical, unqualified professionals who sell themselves as expert witnesses do a great disservice not only to their clients but to their profession as well, all in the name of fees.

Brian Rowbotham, CPA
San Francisco

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