Gang Experts: Best Practices and Avoiding Pitfalls

Since the 1980s, gang experts have become an increasingly commonplace sight in federal courtrooms. A gang expert’s testimony has advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand, the expert can provide a comprehensive overview of the gang and introduce jurors to a criminal world they would not otherwise understand.87 A poised, effective expert at the beginning of your case can set the stage for the rest of your evidence, some of which may come from less-than-articulate cooperators. And in the RICO context, an expert alone may be able to establish the existence of the enterprise.88 On the other hand, an expert is almost sure to draw legal challenges at the trial level, as well as scrutiny and potentially reversal on appeal.89 The question that frequently arises in cooperator-driven cases is: why use a gang expert if you have cooperators who can testify about much of the same information?

Author: Catherine Kuo Dick, Trial Attorney, Organized Crime and Gang Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Federal Sponsor Agency: DOJ, Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Provider: This article is sourced from the U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney Bulletin: June 2017, Volume 65, Number 2

Publication Date: June 2017

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