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Mississippi Judge Uses JuriLytics' Peer Review

The MS Supreme Court recently issued a decision affirming the use of JuriLytics peer review as a basis to exclude a causation expert witness. You can read the decision here.

Peer Review For the Court

Faced with a complex accounting negligence case, District Court Judge Anthony Mozingo hired Jurilytics to serve as the Court's technical advisor in disposing of cross Daubert motions related to experts on both sides. The case involved five experts: two experts were accounting standard-of-care experts, and the other three experts were damages experts who were tasked with valuing the loss of business value related to the alleged negligence. JuriLytics commissioned 4 peer reviews to aid in deciphering this "battle of the experts" and helping the judge to determine the reliability of each side's proffered testimony and opinions.

Results Of Peer Review

JuriLytics aided the Court in constructing a basic set of questions around a structured framework aimed at probing the reliability of the expert testimony under Daubert. The final questionnaire was reviewed by both parties before being sent to the peer reviewers for their guidance. The peer reviewers were selected by a computer algorithm that ranks the best experts in a particular field in order based on their publication record (how many publications they have in the field of interest as well as how often they are cited). This allowed JuriLytics to avoid "cherry-picking" and obtain the best experts possible for the peer review. The results of the peer review were presented to the Court and the parties. The Court allowed the plaintiff to respond to the reviewers' criticisms of their causation expert. After fully considering the reviews as well as plaintiffs' response, the Court ordered that the plaintiffs' causation and valuation expert be excluded for not using any methodology when analyzing whether the accounting firm's negligence had any real causative impact on the firm's demise.

Supreme Court Decision

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently issued a decision mentioning Judge Mozingo's use of our peer reviews. The court described our involvement and the appointment of JuriLytics as a technical advisor:

The trial court, pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Evidence 104(a), appointed JuriLytics, LLC, as a technical advisor to the court.[12] JuriLytics, based out of California, provides courts and attorneys with high-level academic peer review of expert reports. JuriLytics provided two independent reviews of each parties’ reports on issues surrounding auditing standards and two independent reviews on issues surrounding causation and damages.

[12] Mississippi Rule of Evidence 104(a) states that “the court must decide any preliminary question about whether a witness is qualified, a privilege exists, or evidence is admissible. In so deciding, the court is not bound by evidence rules, except those on privilege.”

The court then relied on our peer reviews as a basis to affirm the district court's exclusion of plaintiff's causation expert. Indeed, the exclusion of the expert was one of the few decisions that was affirmed:

In its discretion, the trial court found that, without more, Summerford’s causation opinion was speculative and lacked reliable methodology. The trial court carefully considered the peer review reports, Wallace’s response to the peer review reports, the testimony in the Daubert hearing, and the deposition testimony and expert report of Summerford, and all of the Daubert-related motions in its decision to exclude Summerford’s expert testimony on causation. Because the trial judge thoroughly considered Summerford’s expert opinion on causation and found the opinion to be unreliable, it cannot be said that trial court clearly abused its discretion in its decision. Therefore, we decline to reverse the trial court’s decision to exclude Summerford’s expert causation opinion.

The Court's opinion confirms what we have thought all along. The appointment of JuriLytics as a technical advisor is proper under Rule 104(a) (in Mississippi and Federal Courts). Further, the use of our peer review process signals to appellate courts the serious effort expended in exercising the "gatekeeping" duty with diligence and thougtfullness. In this case, issues were raised by the reviewers that simply would have been overlooked, as neither party addressed them. It was the effort of Judge Mozingo that brought to light the unreliable nature of the expert's opinions.

Read more:

The full order from the Court can be viewed here: http://jurilytics.com/files/mississippi/daubert_order.pdf

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