Civil Witness

The Department’s forensic scientists receive numerous state and federal witness subpoenas for criminal trials in the Commonwealth.  The Supreme Court of the United States held in, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009), that the Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross examine witnesses requires that forensic scientists must be available for testimony in any criminal trials where the prosecution seeks to submit their Certificates of Analysis into evidence.  The Department’s forensic scientists spend considerable time managing those criminal witness subpoenas, conversing with the attorneys involved, traveling to court, and testifying in criminal court hearings.  The Sixth Amendment is not applicable to civil proceedings, and civil parties may seek the assistance of a private expert to review the Department’s findings and provide testimony in any civil trials.

If a civil party seeks to utilize the Department’s forensic scientists for expert testimony connected to examinations they conducted, the Department may charge the party an expert witness fee.  The Department provides the requesting party with a fee agreement, indicating rates for pretrial conferences, depositions, and trial testimony.  The requesting party is billed at the conclusion of the case for the actual time spent by the forensic scientist.  The fees received are deposited by the Department into the Commonwealth’s General Fund.

The Department’s forensic scientists will not review or participate in legal proceedings if they did not conduct the forensic examinations in the case without approval of the agency director.

Please contact Department Counsel at (804) 786-2281 for additional information or to request a fee agreement.