Former Government Employees as Expert Witnesses

By IMS ExpertServices
There are a lot of things that can prevent an expert from testifying: conflicts with the parties involved, restrictions from their employers, time constraints, etc. One thing, however, that should not preclude an expert is their status as a former employee of the U.S government.

Last Monday, when The Aransas Project v. Shaw started proceedings in federal court, this concept was initially questioned by a Justice Department attorney. Typically, he said, the government does not allow employees to testify because they possess sensitive, confidential information.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “An employee shall not serve, other than on behalf of the United States, as an expert witness, with or without compensation, in any proceeding before a court or agency of the United States in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.”

This does not, however, apply to former employees. Many pharmaceutical cases include testimony by former FDA executives, and numerous tax cases call upon ex-IRS employees. In fact, an example from the Code of Federal Regulations details how a former senior employee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may testify as an expert in Clean Air Act compliance almost immediately after terminating employment with the government.

This example is especially relevant to The Aransas Project as the issue involves whooping crane expert Tom Stehn who was previously the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s crane coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Although Stehn recently retired, he was employed by the government during the time frame at issue in the case.

The fact that he is no longer a government employee allows him to testify and, in fact, makes him a more qualified expert witness.  The best experts are often former government employees who were in the trenches, and you should have no reservations in retaining them when it makes sense for the case.

IMS ExpertServices

IMS ExpertServices delivers consultative trial and expert services for the most influential global firms. Over nearly three decades and through more than 20,000 cases and well over 1,000 trials, clients have trusted IMS to equip them with the perspective and tools they need to help their clients succeed. With offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Pensacola, and New York, the company provides trial strategy consulting, jury consulting, trial graphics consulting, trial presentation consulting, and expert witness recruitment and management. IMS has earned nine consecutive rankings on the Inc. 5000 list, won recognition by The National Law Journal in six categories of its “Best of 2020” awards, by Corporate Counsel Magazine as winner in eight categories of its “Best of 2019” awards, and as “Go-To Thought Leader” for two consecutive years by The National Law Review.

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