New Jersey Criminal Law and Expert Testimony – Net Opinion

14-2-1653 State v. Granskie, App. Div. (Reisner, P.J.A.D.) (21 pp.)

The use of expert testimony in this case by the defense stepped on the toes of the jury and overstepped his authority.  The state of the law allows the defendant the right to present expert testimony concerning his heroin addiction and withdrawal symptoms and the potential impact of his physical and psychological condition on the reliability of his confession. Although the court would have normally allowed the expert to explain how heroin withdrawal could have affected the defendant during the police interrogation, because that expert then over stepped his areas of expertise and highjacked the jury’s job when he opined on the defendant’s credibility/truthfulness when he was actually giving the confession, he opinion was considered a net opinion and barred from the jury at a retrial. Therefore, although the expert may rely in part on hearsay to explain his opinions, N.J.R.E. 703, there must be some legally competent evidence that defendant was, in fact, suffering from withdrawal at the time he made the confession.  Ultimately, whether or not that withdraw symptoms effected the truthfulness, veracity, or credibility of the confession itself is solely a questions for the jury and the expert can not comment on that ultimate evidence!!

Submitted by Jeffrey Hark, New Jersey Criminal Attorney

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