Fallacious Forensic Expert Testimony Basis for Vacating Conviction

Drake v. Portuondo, 321 F.3d 338 (2d Cir. 2003)

The Second Circuit vacated a murder conviction that relied heavily on expert testimony when the expert's qualifications were "largely perjured" and the testimony described a syndrome "referenced nowhere but in a true-crime paperback."  The crime involved the shooting of a young couple in a parked car in an isolated area near a junk­ yard.  Because there was no apparent motive for the shooting, the prosecutor called at the last minute a putative expert who testified about  a sexual  dysfunction  syndrome­ "picquerism"-that  could  explain these  events. The Second Circuit ruled the defendant should be given an opportunity to show the prosecution was aware or should have been aware that the witness' testimony was perjured.  The court noted the prosecutor made no independent inquiry into the witness' background, relied entirely on the recom­ mendation of a dentist in exploring whether to call the witness as an expert on aberrant psychology, intended the testimony to bolster what it thought to be a significant weakness in its case, and opposed defendant's request for a continuance when defense counsel protested he could find no psychologist who had so much as heard of picquerism...

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1