Ralph Underwager Expert Testimony

The following are exerpts (verbatim) from opinions handed down in several cases involving the "expert" testimony of Ralph Underwager:

State of Minnesota v. Deloch, 1990 WL 48536 (Minn.App.), April 24, 1990

"After the state rested its case, it brought a motion in limine regarding Dr. Ralph Underwager, a psychologist the defense planned to call as a witness. Dr. Underwager's testimony was directed to two issues: (1) the techniques used by Dr. Carolyn Levit in examining alleged child sexual abuse victims, and their impact on the child; and (2) characteristics of the memory process, especially learned memory versus acual recall of a real event. The trial court excluded Dr. Underwager's testimony. 
     Appellant's argument that the trial court erred in excluding Dr. Underwager's testimony about Dr. Levitt's examination procedures lacks merit. Before testimony by an expert witness may be admitted, the expert must be qualified by way of education or experience. Because Dr.Underwager is not a medical doctor, he does not have the expertise or qualifications to either evaluate Dr. Levitt's examination technique for child abuse victims, or assess its acceptance or reputation in the scientific community. 
     The trial court did not err in excluding Dr. Underwager's testimony about learned memory. The record does not establish that the scientific basis for his theory is reliable and broadly accepted in its field. Furthermore, the basic rule is that expert testimony, to be admissible, must be helpful to the jury, and we conclude that Dr. Underwager's testimony..... would not necessarily be helpful. Dr. Underwager's testimony would tend to inappropriately interfere with the role of the jury in assessing credibility. No evidence exists that Dr. Underwager's testimony would add precision or depth to the jury's conclusions.... Dr. Underwager's testimony was excluded precisely because its helpfulness to the jury was seriously questioned. The trial court correctly excluded Dr. Underwager's testimony. The evidence is sufficient to support the convictions."

Timmons v. State of Indiana, 584 N.E.2d 1108, Jan. 27, 1992

"Appellant contends that his constitutional right to present evidence was infringed upon when the trial court limited the expert testimony of Dr. Ralph Underwager and did not permit Dr.Tyra Phipps to testify before the jury. The trial court limited the testimony of Dr. Ralph Underwager and did not allow Dr. Tyra Phipps to present evidence to the jury. At trial, Dr, Underwager testified before the jury on the issue of interview bias in general and specifically, Dr. Marilyn Shea's interview bias. Dr. Underwager testified that Dr. Shea's interiew bias made T.T.'s statements unreliable, and that subsequent interiews conducted by Kelly and Turnbloom were tainted by Dr.Shea's interview bias. We do not feel the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of Dr. Underwager..."

State v. Swan, 114 Wash.2d 613, 790 P.2d 610, May 3, 1990

ISSUE SIX. CONCLUSION. "The trial court did no abuse its discretion in declining to allow a psychologist to testify as an expert witness. 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. This court has stated that the admissibility of expert testimony depends upon whether '(1) the witness qualified as an expert, (2) the opinion is based upon an explanatory theory generally accepted in the scientific community, and (3) the expert testimony would be helpful to the trier of fact.' 
     At the trial of this case, the defense sought to qualify Dr. Ralph Underwager, a licensed psychologist, as an expert witness. The trial court ruled that the psychologist's proposed testimony was not proper because there was no indication that the results of the doctor's work had been accepted in the scientific community and because the testimony went directly to the credibility of the victims and invaded the province of the jury. 
     The court remains convinced [the psychologist] did not have the qualifications to testify as a doctor, and that the offered testimony, in any event, was within the common experience of all of us. The psychologist [w]as a researcher who did not have bona fide qualifications in the view of the Court. He was not involved in an independent research undertaking, but raher was approached to undertake research by an interested party with no interest [in] the outcome of the research. It is the Court's memory [the psychologist's] research was underaken at the behest of the insurance industry relative to civil claims for child sexual abuse. 
     It was not shown at trial that the psychologist's position on child interviewing was acceped by the scientific community. The psychologist's proposed testimony did not satisfy the test for admissibility set forth in ER 702 and was properly refused.

"Witness for Mr. Bubbles" Australia 60 Minutes
Ralph Underwager & Tony Darren a.k.a. Mr Bubbles


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