Expert Witnesses in Military Courts Martial

courtmartialdefenselawyers11.05.28 2The Rules for Courts-Martial specifically allows defense counsel to seek the services of an expert assistant to help prepare for trial and to call expert witnesses during trial under the appropriate circumstances. R.C.M. 703(d). Consequently, defense attorneys in military courts routinely call upon forensics experts to help defend their clients.

The inherent complexities of certain types of cases such as homicide, sexual assault, drug and even financial require that defense counsel consider retaining an expert for “evaluating, identifying, and developing evidence” and “to test and challenge” the Government’s case. United States v. Warner, 62 M.J. 114, 118 (2005). The type of forensic specialty needed depends on the type of case and the complexity of the case. The more complex the case, the more specialized the forensic expert should be.

R.C.M. 703(d) provides that defense counsel may request to consult with an “expert assistant,” paid for by the Government, to help prepare the defense. During the trial, defense counsel may then request that an “expert witness” testify on behalf of the accused.