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Rules Applicable to Expert and Opinion Testimony

Although agencies are not bound by the evidentiary strictures of Daubert, litigants in administrative hearings must demonstrate that their experts are qualified by knowledge, training, or experience.  Experts in administrative proceedings must also deomonstrate that they have applied recognized and accepted scientific principles in a reliable way.[i]

Administrative agencies are not bound by the technical common law rules of evidence.  However, agencies must observe the basic rules of fairness to parties appearing before them.  The facts upon which a witness relies for his/her expert opinion is discoverable and must be disclosed to the other party so as not to  be a surprise to a party at hearing.[ii]

An administrative hearing officer is not required to believe unrebutted expert testimony.  S/he may believe all, part, or none of such unrebutted expert evidence.  A hearing officer may disbelieve live expert testimony and rely on the statutory presumption of intoxication.[iii]

The trier of fact may disregard an expert opinion if s/he finds the opinion unreasonable or not adequately supported by the facts upon which the opinion is based.[iv]  Agencies are normally entitled to rely upon the reasonable views of their experts over the views of other experts.  When specialists express conflicting views, an agency must have discretion to rely on the reasonable opinions of its own qualified experts even if, a court might find contrary views more persuasive.[v]


[i] Consolidation Coal Co. v. Dir., OWCP, 294 F.3d 885 (7th Cir. 2002)

[ii] Dickinson-Tidewater, Inc. v. Supervisor of Assessments, 273 Md. 245 (Md. 1974)

[iii] Simard v. Salinas, 1999 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1272 (Conn. Super. Ct. May 18, 1999)

[iv] Clark v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers’ Safety & Compensation Div. (In re Clark), 934 P.2d 1269 (Wyo. 1997)

[v] Ground Zero Ctr. for Non-Violent Action v. United States Dep’t of the Navy, 383 F.3d 1082 (9th Cir. Wash. 2004)

Inside Rules Applicable to Expert and Opinion Testimony