Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Daubert Challenge Results in Exclusion of Government Experts
I am ashamed to say that it had taken almost 18 years to mount a Daubert/Kumho challenge in Federal Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. On the other hand, it was the first time that a defendant had done so in this District. Gerald Johnsted was indicted for sending a threatening communication by use of the U.S. Mail. The main evidence for the government was expert testimony by a "forensic handwriting expert" for the US Postal Service opining that the printed threats in two letters were written/printed by the defendant. A full day evidentiary hearing was held in July and the parties subsequently briefed the issue. The district court found that under the Daubert and Kumho standards "that the science or art underlying handwriting analysis falls well short of a reliability threshold when applied to hand printing analysis." The case is on hold while the government decides whether or not to appeal.