Selected Cases Relating to Experts



Experts -- their opinion can be disregarded, but reasons should be explained and supported by the record:


 “Moreover, the Family Court was not required to follow the recommendations of the forensic examiner and the Law Guardian (see Berstell v Krasa-Berstell, 272 A.D.2d 566 [2000]; Matter of Hopkins v Wilkerson, 255 A.D.2d 319 [1998]). The Family Court did not arbitrarily disregard the expert opinion offered in this case (see Young v Young, 212 AD2d 114 [1995]). Rather, its reasons for rejecting the recommendations were fully explained and its reasoning is supported by the record (see Matter of Hopkins v Wilkerson, supra).”  Griffin v. Scott, 303 A.D.2d 504, 505 (2d Dep’t 2003). 



Forensic evaluations -- request for second evaluation denied.  “There was an insufficient showing made before the Family Court to justify a second forensic examination of the parties and their children. The mother's contention that the court- appointed [276/77]  expert was biased is unsupported by the record. Further, the mother failed to provide medical evidence that a second evaluation would not jeopardize the best interests of the children (see Becker v Becker, 143 A.D.2d 561 [1st Dep’t 1988]).”   Friedman v.  Friedman, 8 A.D.3d 276, 276-77 (2d Dep’t 2004)



Experts -- extent of reliance by court: 


“[T]he Supreme Court's reliance on the recommendation of a forensic evaluator was proper, as the evaluator's testimony and reports were reflective of the extensive amount of time and effort she expended with the parties and as well as in reviewing prior reports. Her recommendation, as well as the remainder of the evidence adduced at the full custody hearing, demonstrated that custody with the father was in the child's best interests.”  Nicholson v.  Nicholson, 4 A.D.3d 347, 347 (2d Dep’t 2004)



Experts -- improper delegation of authority by court: 

Order stating that visitation would be “as directed by child’s treating physician” improperly divested power from court.  Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, 305 A.D.2d 608 (2d Dep’t 2003)



Battle of the experts.  Supreme Court properly chose to accept recommendation of one forensic expert when faced with conflicting recommendations.  Zafran v. Zafran, 306 A.D.2d 468 (2d Dep’t 2003)



Psychologist’s report denied admissibility due to hearsay, etc.:

”Family Court also erred by admitting the psychologist's report into evidence. Two psychologists worked together to create the report, yet only one testified. The testifying psychologist was not the one who interviewed other family members, whose comments were included in the report. Additionally, the report not only included the polygraph examiner's official results, but also his informal opinion as to the father's truthfulness regarding certain topics. Because the report relied on hearsay statements from individuals who had no business obligation to provide information to the psychologist, it was inadmissible as a business record (see Matter of Shane MM. v Family & Children Servs., 280 A.D.2d 699, 701 [2001]). With that report excluded, the psychologist's opinion is not entitled to great weight because it was based in part on facts not in evidence and the inadmissible polygraph results, and the psychologist incorrectly stated that he had conducted certain psychological tests which the nontestifying psychologist had conducted.”   In re Lauren B., -- A.D.3d -- (3d Dep’t
Dec. 30, 2004). 



Last updated January 8, 2005

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