The hired gun expert witness

Mo Med. 1994 Apr;91(4):179-82.


This article briefly discusses the role of the expert physician witness at trial and describes what is emerging as the physician professional witness (AKA hired gun). The trial court's powers to evaluate the professionalism and objectivity of an expert witness are examined in light of a recent Western District Missouri Court of Appeals case. This case, while limited to its peculiar set of facts, permitted both a hearing and production of documents of a physician who had been hired to testify. This article reviews the role of the expert physician witness in Missouri litigation in light of recent caselaw outlining discovery procedures to monitor use of professional witnesses. The term "professional witness" does not refer to witnesses who are professionals, but rather to persons who make their entire living witnessing. The Missouri Court of Appeals ruling in State ex rel. Lichtor v. Clark, 845 S.W.2d (Mo.App. W.D. 1992) elucidates the Missouri Courts' authority in sorting out unprofessional physicians who would offer unobjective expert testimony. While this particular article is intended for medical readership and discusses expert physician witnesses, expert witnesses can come from any profession including engineering, accounting, nursing, etc. It might thus be assumed that the Lichtor Court's procedure may be applied to any expert whose objectivity has been put into question.

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony*
  • Missouri
  • Physicians*