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R. Collin Mangrum: The Expert on Expert Witnesses 12/7/18  12/07/18 10:18:11 PM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Professor R. Collin Mangrum remains animated as the eight-hour seminar draws to a close on Nov. 29.
– Photo by Lorraine Boyd

R. Collin Mangrum:
The Expert on Expert Witnesses

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

Every year, Professor R. Collin Mangrum, a veteran teacher at Creighton’s School of Law, conducts
a day-long Continuing Legal Education (CLE) opportunity on evidence.
This year’s topic: “Mangrum on Answers to Expert Evidentiary Questions” took place Nov. 29.
If anyone could give answers to the questions attorneys have, it would be the expert on expert witnesses.
He has written more than 30 articles and three books, most of them on evidentiary issues.
His treatise, Mangrum on Nebraska Evidence (Thomsen Reuters, annual 2003-2013), serves as a primary source for practitioners and is frequently cited by the Nebraska courts on evidentiary issues.
Another treatise, Mangrum and Benson on Utah Evidence (Thomsen Reuters, annual 2004-2013), also serves as a primary source for Utah practitioners and is frequently cited by the courts in Utah.
This seminar, open to law students as well as attorneys, focused entirely on Article Seven of the Rules of Evidence: The Opinions of Lay and Expert Witnesses.
From a review of “Lay Opinions in both State and Federal Courts” to the answer to the 20th question,
“What are the Ethical and Professional Issues Related to the Discovery of Expert Opinions inboth State and Federal Courts?” Mangrum examined the nuances of handling an expert witness before and during an appearance in the witness box.
Mangrum asked and answered 20 questions on expert testimony. They spanned the topics of when you should object to expert testimony to acceptable bases of an expert’s opinion. Sprinkled throughout were stories of real cases and a lot of slides on two screens in the Ahmanson Ballroom of the Heider College of Business.
Many of the questions involved the precedent-setting 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in which the Court articulated a new set of criteria for the admissibility of scientific expert testimony.
The Daubert challenge, as it became known, is a hearing conducted before the judge where the validity and admissibility of expert testimony is challenged by opposing counsel. The expert is required to demonstrate that his or her methodology and reasoning are scientifically valid and can be applied to the facts of the case.
As the seminar drew to a close, Mangrum exhibited the same enthusiasm and vigor, as well as depth of knowledge about the successful handling of evidence during a trial.
Over the course of the day, young lawyers still honing their craft participated alongside with veteran trial attorneys, many of whom are former students of Mangrum.
“I just graduated two years ago,” said Ben Goins of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office in Lincoln, “but I found this to be invaluable. It never hurts to refresh your knowledge. Also, I enjoyed learning from Professor Mangrum then and now.”
Two longtime trial attorneys agreed. Stephen L. Ahl of Wolfe, Snowden, Hurd, Luers & Ahl, LLP in Lincoln said you can always learn something new at seminars like this one.
“It never hurts to revisit these topics,” he said. Even if you have been arguing in court for many years.
“I agree. This was very helpful. And Professor Mangrum is very knowledgeable. I found it to be valuable,” said David D. Ernst of Pansing Hogan Ernst & Bachman LLP in Omaha. “And it never hurts to review this material.”
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