Hi,I am a pro se plaintiff in a legal malpractice case.I am pro se because my attorney just quit. The case is far along. It's in Maryland (Rockville).I also have a family law expert witness to whom I have paid a great deal of money, but he is saying that he, too, is quitting, because my attorney has withdrawn from the case.At the end, they were more advocates for each other (trying to get more money) than advocates for me. Question 1: Is the family law expert witness (who has already issued a preliminary opinion that is favorable to me) allowed to bail on me at this point, after I have paid him a lot of money?Is this breach of contract?Ethical violation?Question 2: If the family law expert witness bails, can I still use his expert witness report at trial?Question 3: If the family law expert witness in fact winds up bailing on me, am I allowed to designate a replacement? (There is a pre-trial conference on August 13, and the Track 4 trial is scheduled for December 6).Question 4: If the family law expert refuses to be deposed by the opposing side (which has asked me to coordinate a date for deposition), will this hurt my case?Question 5: As a pro se counsel, am I allowed to depose the opposing side?Incidentally, I think I can remain pro se until the trial (discovery is almost completed), but have no intention of actually going to trial representing myself.I will tip you fairly if you can answer my questions.Thanks.Nick
What do you mean by a "family law expert witness"? What are they exactly and what are they rendering an opinion on?
It's a legal malpractice case involving a divorce.
Our central claim is that the attorney failed to litigate the central issue in the divorce--the dissipation of $2.5 million in partly marital assets.
Our family law expert's report states that he believes the defendant (attorney in the case) breached the standard of care by not litigating this dissipation at trial (even though I had repeatedly requested that he do so).
Does that answer your question?
Not quite. Is the family law expert an attorney? Has he already been paid his fee?
Hi,The family law expert is indeed an attorney.Officially, his contract was with my attorney.However, I paid him, utlimately tens of thousands of dollars.(He recently tried to get my attorney to convince me to ante up an additional $20,000 so that he could review more stuff.)Does that help answer your question?Please take your time and let me know if you have additional questions.I appreciate your questions, which suggest that you're really trying to get your arms around this and give me quality answers.I'll be fair to you.Nick
1) The question of what the expert can do isn't going to be form because he is acting in the role of an expert as opposed to a lawyer, but it is kind of mixed. I personally think there is an ethical conflict if he has taken a bunch of money and you are willing to pay him for his time. I think he would lose in a complaint filed against him. I also think it is a breach of contract.2) No, you won't be able to use his expert report because it is hearsay and not admissible.3) You should be allowed to get a replacement for the expert, if you can convince the court it is not your fault.4) If the family law expert refuses to be deposed then they will not let him testify.5) I'm not sure what you are asking, but if you are asking if you can depose the other party then yes you can, you would also be allowed to depose witnesses, but not the attorneys for the other side.Thank you for allowing me to assist you. I believe I have answered all of the questions you asked so I would request that you please click the ACCEPT button so I receive credit for my work and leave feedback if you have a chance. Please consider clicking "BONUS" as a nice way of saying "thanks" for a job well done, although this is neither required nor expected. Please remember that we can only base our answers on the information you provide and sometimes a misunderstanding as to what you are looking for or already know occurs so feel free to ask additional questions. Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information. You should always contact a local attorney for legal advice.Several customers have asked how they direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to provide information for you just put “FOR JD 1992” in the subject line and I will pick up the next time I am online.
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