Debaise v. Debaise
Relative Can Serve As Expert Witness On Husband's Finances
Evidence | Expert Witnesses | Family Law
- New Haven J.D., at New Haven
- Mar 24 2014 (Date Decided)
- Morgan, J.
Bias may be insufficient to disqualify an expert witness, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-145(a).The plaintiff wife, Jacqueline Debaise, disclosed her brother, Sean McNamee, who is a certified public accountant, as an expert witness on the husband’s income and the fair market value of the husband’s business. The husband moved to disqualify McNamee and argued that McNamee is not qualified, that the husband and McNamee are competitors and that McNamee might be biased. The court conducted an evidentiary hearing and found that McNamee is qualified as a certified public accountant and previously has served as an expert w itness in other court matters. The court rejected the husband’s claim that McNamee lacks sufficient qualifications to serve as an expert. No evidence exists that the husband and McNamee are direct competitors, as the husband alleged, or that McNamee’s review of the husband’s financial disclosures will harm the husband’s business. Even if there were evidence of business competition or harm to the husband, the court was not persuaded that legal grounds exist to disqualify an expert on that basis. Although McNamee appears “overtly” biased toward the wife, personal bias is insufficient to disqualify an expert witness. “A person shall not be disqualified as a witness in any action because of . . . his interest in the outcome of the action as a party of otherwise,” pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-145(a). The court denied the husband’s motion to disqualify McNamee as an expert witness, without prejudice to renewal.