Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Hired Gun Definition:

An expert with a bias or who adapts his or her expert evidence to the requirements of the party that calls him/her as a witness.

Related Terms: Expert Witness

A hired gun is the somewhat vernacular expression but still used by the courts to refer to an expert witness who does not appear to be impartial.

Thomas Woods wrote:

"The risks associated with calling the expert opinion evidence of a "hired gun" - that is to say, an expert whose opinions are not independent and impartial but are easily adapted to the requirements of the party that calls him or her - are obvious.

"The only reason an expert is permitted to give opinion evidence is because the facts that form the basis of the opinion are beyond the ken of the lay observer. Thus, in admitting expert opinion into evidence and giving it weight, the court (to that extent) delegates its fact-finding function to a witness. Judicial reliance of this kind simply cannot be justified where there is good reason to question the probity and objectivity of the expert....

"Hired guns are, in general, easily recognized. While not conclusive, evidence of a history on the expert's part of alignment with particular interests in litigation will generally affect credibility and weight in a negative way. The opinion of an expert who is too eager to please, too keen to produce a report that is helpful, will almost always unravel on the stand. Beyond the professional and ethical issues that reliance upon such an expert for litigation raises, it is simply bad advocacy to place an essential aspect of a client's case in the hands of such a person.

"A good expert will tell counsel and client what the strengths and weaknesses in the client's case truly are; it then falls to counsel to provide candid advice and do the best that can be done with the facts he or she has been given."

A finding that an expert proffers evidence that is not objective can be devastating. For example, consider the comments of Justice Jacobs at ¶60 and 61 in Pearce.

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