United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VÁZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defense's
Opposed Motion for Daubert Hearing [Doc. 39]. In his
Motion, Mr. Perrault requests that the Court conduct a
Daubert hearing with respect to the United
States' proposed expert, Dr. Gail S. Goodman. In its
Response [Doc. 42], the United States requests that the Court
deny Mr. Perrault's Motion for a Daubert hearing
[Doc. 42]. In his Reply [Doc. 47], Mr. Perrault renews his
request for a Daubert hearing in order to address
the proposed expert testimony of Dr. Goodman. Having
considered the Motion, relevant law, and being otherwise
fully informed, the Court finds that Mr. Perrault's
Motion is not well-taken and that a Daubert hearing
is not warranted. Accordingly, the Motion will be
United States filed a Notice of Intent to Offer Expert
Testimony of child psychologist, Dr. Gail S. Goodman [Doc.
33]. Dr. Goodman received her B.A., M.A., and a Ph.D. in
Developmental Psychology from the University of California,
Los Angeles. Doc. 33-1 at 1. She is currently the
Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of
California, Davis and previously served as president of the
American Psychology Law Society (Division 41) and the
American Psychological Association (Division 7). Id.
at 1-2. She is a consultant for the Special Assault Forensic
Evaluation Center of the Sacramento County Child Protective
Services, has consulted with governments and agencies around
the world on issues concerning child victims in the legal
system, and has served as an expert in cases before the
Supreme Court of the United States. Id.
United States posits that based on Dr. Goodman's
knowledge, skill, training, research, and experience related
to child sexual abuse, she is qualified to provide expert
testimony in ten distinct areas relating to victim behaviors,
reactions, and characteristics. Id. at 2-4. She
would additionally offer evidence regarding delayed
disclosure of abuse by child sexual assault victims,
disclosure over time and in a piecemeal fashion, later
attempts to recant or deny prior statements, triggering
events or life changes that may impact delayed disclosure of
abuse, and passive compliance by victims as well as
conflicting feelings towards the offender. Id.
Furthermore, she would testify about offender
characteristics, including methods of grooming, influencing,
persuading, coercing, forcing, threatening, or inducing
victims into engaging in sexual acts. Id. at 4. The
United States asserts that it reserves the right to elicit
testimony “regarding other matters that may be raised
during cross-examination” based on evidence introduced
by Mr. Perrault or testimony elicited from his experts.
Id. at 5.
Perrault requests a Daubert hearing in order to
address the proposed expert testimony of Dr. Goodman.
See Doc. 39. He argues that Dr. Goodman will not be
able to confirm or validate the allegations set forth in the
Indictment, so the Court should address whether her testimony
is admissible. Id. at 1. However, Mr. Perrault does
not provide any legal authority in support of his argument.
response, the United States directs the Court to consider
Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, stating that an
expert whose testimony is both reliable and relevant may
testify “in the form of an opinion or otherwise.”
Doc. 42 at 3 (citing Fed.R.Evid. 702; United States v.
Neris, Cr. No. 10-2604 MV, 2012 WL 13081447, at *1
(D.N.M. Feb. 17, 2012) (Vazquez, J.)). The United States
points out that other courts have permitted testimony of
child psychologists as expert witnesses in sexual abuse
cases. Id. at 4. Specifically, child psychologists
have been allowed to testify about “general behavior
characteristics” of victims. Id. The United
States also discusses the Court's “gatekeeper
function, ” and the wide latitude it has in determining
the reliability and admissibility of expert testimony.
Id. at 5. Most germane to the instant matter, the
United States argues that the trial court is not required to
hold “reliability” proceedings where the
reliability of an expert's methods is not in dispute or
called into question. Id. (citing United States
v. Velarde, 214 F.3d 1204, 1209 (10th Cir. 2000)
United States further argues that, contrary to Defense's
assertions, Dr. Goodman is not a fact witness and is not
permitted to offer her opinion about either John Doe's
truthfulness or Mr. Perrault's guilt. Id. The
United States notes that the expert's opinion may not
“invade the province of the jury in determining
guilt.” Id. at 3. Rather, it intends only to
offer her testimony regarding “general characteristics
of sexual abuse victims, including delayed disclosure, that
are relevant to Defendant's case.” Id. at
6. With respect to reliability, the United States argues that
Dr. Goodman is clearly an expert in the field, and highlights
that Mr. Perrault does not dispute her expertise or
reliability. Id. The United States further argues
that her testimony is relevant because child psychology as it
relates to sexual abuse victims is “beyond the ken of
the average juror.” Id. (citing United
States v. Michael, Cr. No. 06-1833, 2007 WL 9657855, at
*3 (D.N.M. Nov. 15, 2007)(Armijo, J.)). It argues that her
specialized knowledge will help the jury better understand
the evidence and allow the jury to determine whether John Doe
is credible and whether Mr. Perrault is guilty based on John
Doe's testimony and other evidence. Id. at 7.
United States ultimately argues that a Daubert
hearing is not necessary because the proffered testimony is
not new or novel. Id. (citing United States v.
Nichols, 169 F.3d 1255, 1263 (10th Cir. 1999)). Because
Mr. Perrault has not sufficiently called into question Dr.
Goodman's “qualifications, facts, data, principles,
or methods, ” and he has not raised any arguments in
favor of excluding her testimony based weighing its probative
value against any Rule 403 dangers, the United States
requests that the Court deny Mr. Perrault's Motion for a
Daubert hearing. Id. at 7-8.
Reply, Mr. Perrault does not dispute that qualified
psychologists are often permitted to testify as experts in
sexual abuse cases, but urges the Court to exercise its
gatekeeping function in this case. Doc. 47 at 1. He argues
that Dr. Goodman's expert testimony should be limited to
the issue of “delayed disclosure” alone and
renews his request for a Daubert hearing to address
the proposed expert testimony. Id.
702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs testimony by
expert witnesses. It permits an expert who is qualified by
knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education to
testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand evidence ...