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FORENSIC ENGINEERING INVESTIGATIONS

FORENSIC ENGINEERING INVESTIGATIONS

“Learn about forensic engineering investigations: the step-by-step process of site investigation, and examination & testing of evidence that will make your testimony creditable.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Learn about forensic engineering investigations.

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law. Learn about forensic engineering investigations.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER THIS FIELD?

Benefits

  • Interesting work
  • Low liability
  • High hourly rates
  • Advanced payment via retainer
  • Little competition

Drawbacks

  • Can be stressful
  • Sometimes requires travel

INVESTIGATIONS

The more investigation, research, analysis, and testing that you do, the more credible and convincing your testimony will be. Your investigation will, of course, depend on the details of the issues in your field of involvement. Your attorney/client can arrange access to evidence or the site. Do not rely on your memory; take detailed notes.

Site Investigation

If appropriate, visit the site to see the actual circumstances of the incident. Besides a pad and pen, bring a camera and possibly binoculars. Take many pictures and make sketches, if appropriate. Try to determine if the conditions now are the same as they were immediately following the incident.

One of my first investigations was of a fire of suspected electrical origin. The fire damage was extensive, with insulation melted off of much of the exposed wiring in the basement. Many of the covers were missing from junction boxes, and some had wiring hanging out with connections exposed without wire nuts. I documented all of these violations and thought, “No wonder the place burned down.” It wasn’t until I was driving home that it dawned on me that there were probably a half-dozen investigators there before me who created most of the violations. Don’t assume that things were always as you find them.

Be prepared to interview persons who may be able to offer useful information. It would be helpful to bring a tape recorder for interviews or to simplify note-taking.

Examination

If applicable, relevant items may be sent to you or you may have to go somewhere else to view, examine, and possibly test them. Besides a pad and pen, bring a camera and surgical gloves. Before touching these items, explain to representatives of both parties what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and receive permission before proceeding. Take many pictures and make sketches, if appropriate. Depending upon the magnitude of the case, there may be a dozen or more people present, and you may have to wait your turn.

If you suspect that evidence has been tampered with or spoiled, immediately inform your attorney/client.

Testing

Consider pertinent testing, if needed. In some cases, this is your responsibility; in others, testing should be done by an independent laboratory. One argument for independent testing may be that you don’t have the required measuring devices; another is that independent tests appear more objective. Have your attorney/client contract directly with the laboratory so the lab results will be his work product. If you do the testing, it is usually best to rent the test equipment and have the supplier provide a report of recent calibration and accuracy of the instrument. You don’t want to be questioned about these issues regarding your meters while on the witness stand. Review, advise your attorney/client, and obtain written permission before proceeding. I wouldn’t hesitate to proceed, however, if your attorney/client is present, informs you that the other side has approved, and is aware of what you will do.

There are two types of testing: nondestructive and destructive. Do only nondestructive testing on the actual item that is the issue of the action. If the testing needs to be destructive, obtain an “exemplar,” an identical item. There may be others at the site or an exact copy may be available from the manufacturer. In any case, get permission before testing of any kind.

Sometimes, it is appropriate for you to observe testing by others. Also, you or someone else may be asked to write a “protocol” (procedure) for testing for approval by all parties prior to testing.

CONCLUSION

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering”. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Find out how to be a forensic expert witness. Discover how to be an engineering expert witness. Find out how to obtain training as a forensic engineer. Learn how to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

 

 

 

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FORENSIC ENGINEER’S (CV) SAMPLE

START FORENSIC ENGINEERING

FORENSIC ENGINEER’S CURRICULUM VITA (CV) SAMPLE

JOHN D. GASKELL, P.E., Forensic Electrical Engineer

Specialty:             ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS FOR BUILDINGS

Forensic consulting electrical engineer specializing in disputes relating to Electrical design and construction of buildings:  Electrical failures/explosions; electrocutions; fires of electrical origin; errors and omissions; standard of care; National Electrical Code compliance; illumination evaluations; power quality; grounding; lightning protection; and electrical accidents.  Member: National Academy of Forensic Engineers.

Education:

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering

University of Rhode Island, 1966

Associates in Electrical Engineering Technology

Wentworth Institute, Boston, MA 1962

Professional Registrations:

Registered Professional Engineer in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Professional Practice:

John D. Gaskell, P.E. is president of Gaskell Associates Consulting Electrical Engineers.  This engineering practice, established by him in 1971, specializes in electrical systems for buildings.  Gaskell Associates is a division of Thielsch Engineering, a 250 person, diverse engineering firm.

For over 30 years Gaskell Associates has provided electrical design services to architects and building owners, including: Power Distribution Systems; Emergency Power systems; High voltage Power Distribution systems; Lighting Design; Fire alarm systems; Lightning Protection Systems; Security alarm Systems; communications systems; MATV & CCTV Systems; Computer Power and Network Systems; UPS & Power Conditioning Systems; Magnetic Field Measurements and Mitigation; Power Quality Studies, Measurements and Monitoring; Feasibility Studies and Forensic Investigations & Legal Testimony.

Service to clients has been the key to their success.

Professional Affiliations:

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

President of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers 1980-1981

Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA)

Founding President of the Rhode Island Chapter 1975-1976

National Academy of Forensic Engineers

Board Certified and credentialed Diplomat Forensic Engineer

R.I. State Building Code Standards Committee (Past Member)

Electrical Sub-committee Past Chairman

Electrical League of Rhode Island

Past Director

Providence Engineering Society

National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association

Honors and Awards:

FREEMAN AWARD from the Providence Engineering Society

This award was established for the purpose of recognizing major achievement in engineering.  It is held to be unique in that it recognizes accomplishment, inventiveness, development of theory, or the application of scientific knowledge in such a way as to provide advancement in the art and practice of engineering.

ENGINEER OF THE YEAR

From the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers

LIGHTING DESIGN AWARDS

Hall Library, Cranston, Rhode Island

From the New England Section of IESNA

Lincoln School Gym, Providence, Rhode Island

From the Rhode Island Chapter of IESNA

ESD FIRST PLACE NATIONAL DESIGN AWARD

“UNINTERRUPTIBLE Power Supply” (UPS) system for Fleet National Bank’s Computer Operations Center in Providence, RI, with initial capacity of 600 KVA and expandable to 1 Megawatt.

From Electrical Systems Design Magazine

WEISMAN MEMORIAL AWARD

In recognition of sustained and meritorious service

From the Rhode Island chapter of IESNA

MAN OF THE YEAR

From the Electrical League of Rhode Island

Publications:

“Anatomy of a Power Outage.”  Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine, October 2001

“Consulting Engineer: Watch Out for Decline in Power Quality.” APC UPTIME, April 2001

“Avoiding EMF’s – Designing Buildings Limiting Occupants Exposure to EMF’s.”   Power Quality Assurance, September/October 1996

“Electrical Design with EMF in Mind.” Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC & M) Magazine, February 1995

“Expandable UPS Serves Bank Operations Center.”  Electrical Construction & Maintenance       (EC & M) Magazine, March 1988

“Effects of Voltage Reduction.” Electrical Consultant, February 1974

Lectures:

“How Fire Alarm System Requirements Affect Building Owners.”

Lecture presented to the Building Owners and Managers Association of Rhode Island, May 2005.

“What Realtors need to know about the New Fire alarm Systems Requirements.”

Lecture presented to     the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, February 2005.

“Fire Alarm Systems for Building Owners.”

Seminar presented by Gaskell Associates Consulting Engineers to over 400 attendees regarding the changes to the Rhode Island Fire Safety Code precipitated by the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire, November 2004.

“Electrical Systems for Buildings.”

Lecture presented at the advanced lighting course for the Rhode Island Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, January 2000.

“Power Quality Audits and Monitoring.”

Lecture presented at the Rhode Island Plant Engineering Maintenance Show and Conference, October 1999.

“Forensic Engineering – How to prepare a case.”

Lecture presented at the Rhode Island Plant Engineering Maintenance Show and Conference, October 1999.

“Power Quality Studies and Monitoring.”

Lecture presented to the Southern New England Network Users Group, July 1998.

“Power Quality in New Buildings.”

Lecture presented at the Building Systems Course, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI, April 1998.

“Electrical Systems for Buildings.”

Lecture presented at the advanced lighting course for   the Rhode Island Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, January 1998.

“Power Quality – Why be concerned.”

Lecture presented to AIA Rhode Island, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects, November 1997.

“Forensic Engineering.”

Lecture presented to the Rhode Island Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, November 1997.

“Power Quality Audits.”

Lecture presented to the New England Healthcare Engineers Society at their Fall Seminar in New London, Connecticut, November 1996.

“The Industrial Design Building @ 161 South Main Street.”

Lecture at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), October 1996.

“Power Quality Studies & Solutions.”

Lecture presented to the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of Plant Engineers, October 1996.

“Avoiding EMF’s.”

Lecture presented at the National Conference on Harmonics and Power Quality in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 1995.

“The Architect’s Role in Electrical Design.”

Lecture presented at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), October 1994 and December 1995.

“Lighting Design in Commercial Buildings.”

Lecture presented at Roger Williams University College of  Architecture, September 1992.

“I.E.S. Lighting Design Awards.”

Lecture presented to the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Institute of Architects at their Fall Conference, October 1990.

“Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems.”

Lecture presented to the Rhode Island Hospital Engineers Association, February 1987.

“Energy Efficiency in Electrical Systems.”

Lecture presented for the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of Plant Engineers, March 1986.

“Electrical Systems for Buildings.”

Course presented at Roger Williams University College of Engineering, fall 1982, 1983 and 1984.

“IES Introduction to Light and Lighting.”

Course for the Rhode Island Chapter of IES, Spring 1978.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Find out how to be a forensic expert witness. Discover how to be an engineering expert witness. Find out how to obtain training as a forensic engineer. Learn how to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

 

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FORENSIC ENGINEERS NEED A – CV

FORENSIC ENGINEERS NEED A “CV”

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)

A CV is what a Forensic Engineer’s expert witness resume is called. The more detailed and complete it is, the more qualified they will appear.

Include the following items:

  • Specialty—Summary of your area of expertise.
  • Education—Starting with college and including degrees and honors, post-graduate studies, and certifications.
  • Professional registrations—List states and numbers.
  • Professional practice—Present and previous company affiliations, positions and titles.
  • Professional affiliations—Memberships in professional/technical groups and offices held.
  • Honors and awards—List name of honor/award and group presenting it.
  • Publications—List title, publication, and month and year
  • Lectures—List title, group presented to, and month and year
  • Forensic activities—List the most recent first, including:

Title (example) LIGHTNING INVESTIGATION, Westerly, RI.

Date hired.

Your job number.

Parties to the case and official court case number and venue.

Retaining attorney (Also list if for defense or plaintiff).

Synopsis: Two brief paragraphs, the first describing the incident and the second describing your assignment including whether it involved deposition and/or testimony at trial.

Print your CV on your stationary (letterhead for the first page and second sheet for the others) and bind it between covers embossed with your company name. Distribute this to potential clients like litigation attorneys and insurance adjusters.

See my next blog for the first few pages of my CV.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Find out how to be a forensic expert witness. Discover how to be an engineering expert witness. Find out how to obtain training as a forensic engineer. Learn how to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

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FORENSIC ENGINEERS – WHAT DO THEY DO?

FORENSIC ENGINEERS – WHAT DO THEY DO?

INTRODUCTION

Understand what forensic engineers do and discover why this exciting, challenging, and profitable field should be part of your consulting engineering practice. Find out what is involved and if you have what it takes to be a success in the litigation arena.

WHAT IS INVOLVED FOR FORENSIC ENGINEERS?

Cases of forensic engineers include some or all of the following: site investigation; examination and testing of evidence; reports (verbal, summary, and detailed); testimony at deposition; testimony at trial (direct and cross-examination).

There are two sides to every case. The person who brings the action is the “plaintiff.” If you work for his or her attorney, you are a plaintiff’s witness. The other party in the suit is the “defendant.” If you work for his or her attorney, you are a defendant’s witness. In your forensic practice, you will almost exclusively be involved with civil cases (noncriminal matters).

There are two types of witnesses: a “fact witness” and an “expert witness.” A fact witness can only tell what he or she observed, not what others have said (hearsay) and not his or her opinion concerning the case. You, as a forensic engineer, will be an expert witness (a technical witness) and as such, you are allowed to express your opinions on matters within your expertise.

The attorney who hires you may represent either the plaintiff or the defendant, or their insurance companies. When you work directly for an attorney, your work is protected from discovery (detection), by the opposition because it is “attorney work product.” Avoid working directly for the parties of the suit because your work is not similarly protected.

Your “scope of services” in your forensic fee agreement is important for similar reasons. “Consultant and (if designated) as expert” allows your attorney-client to deny that you were dismissed as an expert witness, if he or she doesn’t like your opinion as a consultant.

Above all, you must be truthful at all times. Forensic engineers must be supportive of there opinion without arguing for your attorney-client. Your opinion will not always coincide with that of your attorney-client. His or her job is to advocate for the client. Your job is to form an accurate and scientifically consistent opinion and to convey that to your attorney-client. If your attorney-client doesn’t agree with your theory of the case, he or she can get another expert. In addition he or she benefit from your contrary opinion because your findings will point out the weaknesses in their case and may prompt a settlement.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Find out how to be a forensic expert witness. Discover how to be an engineering expert witness. Find out how forensic engineers obtain training. Learn how to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

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WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A FORENSIC ENGINEER

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A FORENSIC ENGINEER

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

Benefits

  • Interesting work
  • Low liability
  • High hourly rates
  • Advanced payment via retainer
  • Little competition

Drawbacks

  • Can be stressful
  • Sometimes requires travel

Because litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice.

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

To be an “expert witness,” you don’t need to be a forensic engineer, but you do need experience and credentials in your field. To be an “engineering expert, you will usually need an engineering degree and a license as a Professional Engineer. In addition, being a member of NAFE is a big help in being selected and in assuring acceptance as an expert in court.

It is also important to have knowledge and qualifications in the engineering specialty involved in the particular case at hand. For example, if the issue is lighting or illumination, experience in lighting design and membership in the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) would be helpful. It’s best to stick to your general area of expertise. If you are an electrical engineer, for instance, don’t take on a civil engineering case.

In addition, you should possess the following general traits:

  • Speaking/teaching ability. In court you need to speak clearly, using proper English and making your statements and replies concise and easy to understand. You will be teaching the judge and jury your opinion of the case and it is your job to convince them that you are correct.
  • Writing skills. Written reports need to be clear and professional. Don’t put anything in writing until your attorney-client requests. Be sure you can defend every word under cross-examination.
  • Willingness to prepare. You are being paid to study the case and the technical issues involved. This can often be tedious, but it is the key to success. When preparing for court or deposition, it is crucial that you prepare for all possible questions and memorize much of the information.
  • Reading skills. In most cases you will receive a box full of documents to review. These may include: (1) affidavits (written declaration of facts sworn to); (2) complaint (plaintiff’s initial pleadings); (3) depositions (oral testimony taken by the opposing attorney in advance of trial); (4) indictments (written accusations presented by a grand jury); (5) interrogatories (written questions sent to the opposing side and written answers submitted under oath); (6) petitions (written applications to the court requesting judicial action); (7) pleadings (written statements of contentions of the parties in the suit); (8) subpoenas (written orders for witnesses to appear); (8) summons (writ directing an officer to notify a defendant to appear in court); and (9) transcripts (official record of proceedings in a trial, deposition, or hearing).

It is part of your job to read all of these documents and to cull the information pertinent to your involvement in the case. This can mean many hours of reading even though many of these documents have no bearing on your portion of the case.

FORENSIC ENGINEER CONCLUSION

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Find out how to be a forensic expert witness. Discover how to be an engineering expert witness. Find out how to obtain training as a forensic engineer. Learn how to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

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FORENSIC ENGINEERING

WHAT IS FORENSIC ENGINEERING?

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER THIS FIELD?

Benefits

  • Interesting work
  • Low liability
  • High hourly rates
  • Advanced payment via retainer
  • Little competition

Drawbacks

  • Can be stressful
  • Sometimes requires travel

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

To be an “expert witness,” you don’t need to be an engineer, but you do need experience and credentials in your field. To be a “forensic engineering expert”, you will usually need an engineering degree and a license as a Professional Engineer. In addition, being a member of NAFE is a big help in being selected and in assuring acceptance as an expert in court.

It is also important to have knowledge and qualifications in the engineering specialty involved in the particular case at hand. For example, if the issue is lighting or illumination, experience in lighting design and membership in the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) would be helpful. It’s best to stick to your general area of expertise. If you are an electrical engineer, for instance, don’t take on a civil engineering case.

In addition, you should possess the following general traits:

Speaking/teaching ability. In court you need to speak clearly, using proper English and making your statements and replies concise and easy to understand. You will be teaching the judge and jury your opinion of the case and it is your job to convince them that you are correct.

Writing skills. Written reports need to be clear and professional. Don’t put anything in writing until your attorney-client requests. Be sure you can defend every word under cross-examination.

Willingness to prepare. You are being paid to study the case and the technical issues involved. This can often be tedious, but it is the key to success. When preparing for court or deposition, it is crucial that you prepare for all possible questions and memorize much of the information.

Reading skills. In most cases you will receive a box full of documents to review. These may include: (1) affidavits (written declaration of facts sworn to);  (2) complaint (plaintiff’s initial pleadings); (3) depositions (oral testimony taken by the opposing attorney in advance of trial); (4) indictments (written accusations presented by a grand jury); (5) interrogatories (written questions sent to the opposing side and written answers submitted under oath); (6) petitions (written applications to the court requesting judicial action); (7) pleadings (written statements of contentions of the parties in the suit); (8) subpoenas (written orders for witnesses to appear); (8) summons (writ directing an officer to notify a defendant to appear in court); and (9) transcripts (official record of proceedings in a trial, deposition, or hearing).

It is part of your job to read all of these documents and to cull the information pertinent to your involvement in the case. This can mean many hours of reading even though many of these documents have no bearing on your portion of the case.

CONCLUSION

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If you have what it takes, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your consulting engineering practice. The largest chapter in Jack’s new book The Complete Guide to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers this topic in detail.

“Excerpted from The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING © 2017 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. See DISCLAIMER and order at http://www.TheEngineersResource.com.” Use discount code “paperback” and save.

 

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

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Admissibility of Expert Testimony

Admissibility of Expert Testimony

Forensic expert witnesses need to know the rules of evidence.

“Learn how Rule 702 of Federal Evidence, embraces the Daubert principal and rejects “junk science.”

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

ADMISABILITY OF EXPERT TESTIMONEY

Forensic engineers need to understand the rules that apply to their testimony in the jurisdiction of the court. The following is included in the 2014 Federal Rules of Evidence:

Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the “trier of fact” [Jury & or Judge] to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

This federal requirement, embraces the Daubert rule. If the testimony is based on a “novel theory”, this rule requires the judge to determine if it is sufficiently supported to qualify as evidence or it should be dismissed as “junk science”.

The Us Supreme Court has provided guidance tor trial courts by providing the following list of some of the factors that may be considered in evaluating admissibility of evidence.

  1. Empirical testing: whether the theory or technique is falsifiable, refutable, and/or testable.
  2. Whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication.
  3. The known or potential error rate.
  4. The existence and maintenance of standards and controls concerning its operation.
  5. The degree to which the theory and technique is generally accepted by a relevant scientific community.

Comparable rules have been adopted in many states. However, some states still use the older Frye rule, under which publication in a peer journal is usually sufficient; assurances by the expert witness are not adequate. If you are not testifying in federal court, it incumbent upon you to verify with your attorney-client the requirements of the court of venue.

CASE STUDY

The following is a narrative synopses of one of my cases. This is not intended to be a formal presentation of legal actions. No confidential or privileged information is revealed. This is simply my recollection, intended only to illustrate an expert’s typical involvement in judicial matters.

I was the chief investigator and expert witness on all of the forensic cases of Gaskell Associates, Ltd., and later those of the Gaskell Associates division of Thielsch Engineering until my retirement. However, it was my practice to meet on each case with my senior staff to “brainstorm” the case. This often opened up avenues of investigation that had not previously occurred to me. I attribute much of my success to hiring others who are smarter than I am.

Example Case – Power Line Proximity to Structure

An interesting case involved “Ozzie” the roofer. Part of my job was to read his “deposition,” his fact witness statement of what he observed. Ozzie was hired to put a new rubber roof on a tenement. Near the completion of the project, he was attaching the 10-foot metal edge strips. As he was nailing a strip to the edge, he saw another strip start to blow off the roof and reached out to grab it. In doing so, he extended it out into contact with a 25,000 volt distribution line. Current flowed through the metal edge strip, through Ozzie’s right hand, through his left hand that was still holding the other edge strip, down the aluminum siding on the building facade and then damaged all the appliances in the first-floor pizza restaurant.

The attorney asked him how he felt. “I was a little tired, so I took the rest of the day off”, Ozzie told him. Some things cannot be explained; perhaps Ozzie has a guardian angel. Incidentally, Ozzie was not even a party to the lawsuit; the pizza guy was trying to collect for his appliances.

CONCLUSION

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

 

 

 

 

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GAINING RECOGNITION for FORENSIC ENGINEERS

GAINING RECOGNITION for FORENSIC ENGINEERS

“Learn the step-by-step process of gaining recognition as a forensic engineer that will make your testimony creditable.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Gaining recognition is important for forensic engineers.

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

GET KNOWN & GAIN CREDENTIALS

As a graduate engineer I was a “nobody”. I came from a blue-collar family and had never even seen the inside of a Country Club. But, I was savvy enough to realize that I needed to start gaining recognition and building an outstanding reputation, with more credentials.

As soon as you graduate, start attending meetings of local engineering/industry organizations. Even if you don’t yet have a job, it will give you an opportunity to meet fellow engineers, contractors, manufacturers’ representatives, architects, inspectors, distributors and other contacts that might help you get a job or help you in other ways.

One of the most important organizations for engineers is the local/state chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Here you will meet the “players” in the engineering profession and people who will be your colleges, future competitors, or future employees. In most cases, you don’t even need to join to attend meetings. These are usually evening dinner meetings with a guest speaker.

At meetings, collect business cards from those that you want to get to know. Start making a “Contact List, including both business and personal information. You will form a quicker and closer friendship if you can remember that he/she has an interest in baseball and has a 3 year old daughter, named Michelle.

Initially, my “resume” included membership in various organizations. My next goal was to become a board member of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers. I asked the local president if there were any committee openings; there are always openings. I chose to become Publications Committee Chairmen, which qualified me to attend monthly board meetings and meet the leaders, and be seen and known. Soon I met the Nominating Committee Chairmen. After our friendship cemented, I expressed interest in being on the board and I became Treasurer the following year (most nominees run unopposed). That put me on the “ladder” and I became RISPE President in four years. After my Presidency, I nominated one of the recent Past Presidents for the “Engineer of the Year Award”; not surprisingly, in a few years he nominated me.

I don’t mean to imply that all this was easy; it took a lot of hard work. But, with determination and effort, you begin gaining recognition and establishing credentials that will eventually distinguish you from your competitors. The important lesson here is: “It doesn’t just happen – You make it happen”.

As a consulting engineer, you will frequently attend “interview meetings”; where Building Committees select architects and engineers for their projects.

In your consulting engineering career, you will be required to speak before both small and large groups. If you want to be successful as a consulting engineer, don’t be afraid to build yourself up. Fortunately, your work as an officer of professional organizations will give you many opportunities to hone your skills as a public speaker.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. But, first start the process of gaining recognition as a forensic engineer that will make your testimony creditable.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

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EXCEL AT YOUR FIRST ENGINEERING JOB

EXCEL AT YOUR FIRST ENGINEERING JOB

“Learn how to excel at your first engineering job.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

Start the job right

Do your best to excel at your first engineering job. Arrive early and leave late. Start a notebook, mine was handwritten; yours will be on your computer. Record information, such as: formulas; code rules; contacts; and anything that you might need again. Ask a lot of questions, but avoid the same question a second time; consult your “notebook”.

I soon learned that my first boss could never answer a question with a yes or a no. His answers always came with a story and a long explanation. This was often frustrating, when we were up-against a deadline. But, it taught me related things; helped me to remember the answers; and gave me an understanding of the “why”.

Fill your “notebook” with knowledge.

It is critically important that you stay up-to-date. This involves weekly reading including: magazines in your industry and in your specialty; code updates and interpretations; business trends; and current affairs. This will aid you in your present job and help your future engineering firm to thrive and prosper in any economy. Dedicate at least two hours a week to this task. Always have something with you to read.

Start to write “white papers”. A white paper is a report or guide to help readers to understand an issue. When your work involves a new technical issue, read about it and take detailed notes in narrative form, including definitions of the various new terms.

Add this “white paper” to your notebook. I didn’t learn about white papers until I was in practice for over 20 years; start as soon as you have a job. After you have prepared a “white paper”, re-read it several times and commit much of the information to memory. When the subject comes up, you will be able to discuss it like an expert. You will gain a reputation as the “smartest guy in the room”. White papers will serve as a useful future reference and possibly the basis of a magazine article, authored by you.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. Start by doing your best to excel at your first engineering job.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

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FORENSIC ENGINEERING JOB INTERVIEW

FORENSIC ENGINEERING JOB INTERVIEW

“Learn the step-by-step process of preparing for your forensic engineering job interview that will give you the right experience to make your testimony creditable.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

THE INTERVIEW

Be prepared:

If you are responding to an employment posting, make a list of the skills desired, so that you are prepared to discuss and relate them to your training and education. Don’t be concerned, if you don’t have all the qualifications listed. There may be an entry-level-position available.

Make a list of five skills and qualifications of yours that you can share during the interview.

Go to the company’s web-site to learn more about the company so that you will be better prepared for questions like: “What interests you about our company”?

Make a list of likely questions that you may be asked and prepare answers: Why should I hire you? Is there anything about the job or the company that I haven’t told you? What are your career goals in the next 5 years and how will you achieve them? What are your salary requirements?

Make a list of questions about the job and the company and bring up your questions, during your forensic engineering job interview. Ask if you can meet someone in a similar position and the person who will be your immediate supervisor. This shows a true interest in the job and may reveal information that will make you look else ware.

Ask about the skills that you will be learning and applying in the available position; and access their relevance to your future goals. For example, assume that you are an electrical engineer and wish to open a practice designing electrical systems for buildings. A position as a lighting designer will not teach you the diversity of other skills needed.

Try not to look like a “dear-in-the-headlights”; practice in front of a mirror. Listen carefully and don’t be afraid to take notes during the interview. Bring extra copies of your resume, including a list of references. Also, bring your list of questions, a pad (in a folio), and a pen. Don’t bring a drink or chew gum and turn your cell phone off.

Send the interviewer a “Thank You” note or e-mail.

You may have to widen your job search area, but with persistence, you will eventually get a job in your chosen field.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. I hope that this article prepares you for your forensic engineering job interview.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.