Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In the Nacchio case (see here), the defense was precluded from having an expert witness testify. In the Goyal case (see here), the issue is that the prosecution failed to provide an expert witness to show that there was a GAAP violation. It is interesting to see the importance of expert testimony in white collar cases -- cases that tend to be more complicated and require educating the jury on the technicalities of transactions.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has filed an amicus brief in the Goyal case arguing that the government was required to "offer expert testimony that a GAAP violation in fact occurred." As stated in the brief, "a jury should not be treated as a team of accountants and asked to interpret and apply GAAP without expert guidance." (note- a similar issue, although not the same circumstances, was discussed in the Rigases and Ebber's case - see here). This is a particularly interesting issue as the need for an expert has been noted in civil accounting cases. The amicus brief notes that "the need is even more pressing in criminal cases, where the burden of proof of each element is higher- beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than merely by a preponderance of the evidence." The brief also examines the mens rea requirement for corporate officers.
NACDL Amicus Brief in U.S. v. Goyal - Download U.S._v._Goyal_Amicus_Brief