Q & A: How Does A Certification Designation Help In Court?
A former student recently contacted Roy and asked a question regarding the importance of the Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialist (CEES) and Certified Work Capacity Evaluator (CWCE) designations, and how these statuses would stand up in court.
Why should one seek certification? How do the CEES/CWCE designations hold up “better” in court?
My comments are focused on how the U.S. system works, as that is my area of study. To apply these same thoughts to Canada all one has to do is look at the B.C. system. There are dozens of B.C. Supreme Court cases that deal with the same issue. Search the court online system for names like "Kyi", "Enright", "Fischer", "Kerr" or "Forstved v. Penner".
Each of the above names will bring examples of cases where a CWCE designee has been qualified as an expert by the presiding judge. The last case, Forstved, is an example of an evaluator who was disqualified as an expert. In fact, this is an example of a good way to ruin one's career.
The certifications are foundational to be qualified under Federal Rule of Evidence 702. This updated Rule replaces all precedent set by Daubert v Dow Chemical. It reads:
“If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”
Recognized certifications assist an evaluator to meet seven of the standards one has to meet to be qualified as an expert. Keep in mind that it is the individual who is qualified, not the "system" of evaluation. Read Baker v Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Social Security Commissioner, No. 05-3106 for an example of how the expert's opinion is valued by the court, not the system of evaluation.
The value of our certification is that it recognizes your knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education which we believe will result in your ability to provide testimony based upon sufficient facts or data gathered using reliable principles and methods applied reliably to the facts of the case.
Do any of you have experiences you would like to share where your CWCE/CEES designation helped you in a legal situation? Share your stories below!
Stay in touch with us on: