November 18, 2009
Weight, Not Admissibility
The North Dakota Supreme Court has held that allegations that a psychiatrist who testified as an expert witness violated ethical precepts went to the weight, rather than the admissibility, of the evidence. The testimony was offered in a proceeding that involved the possible release of a sexually dangerous individual. The court concluded:
The district court did not determine whether Dr. Coombs violated the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, and we will not decide this issue for the first instance on appeal. Whether Dr. Coombs violated the ethical rules of his profession regarding conflicts of interest has no bearing on the admissibility of his testimony. Rather, infirmity in a psychologist's testimony affects the weight given his opinion, but not its admissibility.
The contention was the the psychiatrist had a conflict of interest as a result of his role as both treating doctor and expert witness. (Mike Frisch)
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