Webinar Archive: Expert Witness Series
Webinar date: June 13, 2016
Scott Miller and Melissa Scaia presented a webinar with the same title on June 5, 2013. This webinar will be similar but will also include information about their more recent experiences.
This webinar is intended to help new expert witnesses (who will be providing general testimony on domestic violence and/or sexual assault) be as prepared as possible when they take the stand for the first time. The webinar provides a "to-do" list that aspiring experts can use to help them negotiate the court setting, organize their thoughts and information, and respond to questions about their training and experience. In addition, participants hear some examples of common pitfalls faced by new experts, and tips for handling them.
Presenters discuss a) how to prepare even before taking your first case; b) what you need from the proffering attorney; c) why it's important to sharpen up your teaching skills; d) putting your "tool kit" together; e) getting ready for voir dire/qualification; and f) types of practical logistical information you'll need before going to court.
About the Presenters
Scott Miller has worked in the women's movement since 1985, and has been with the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) in Duluth, MN, since 2000. Scott coordinates Duluth's Coordinated Community Response to domestic violence under a demonstration project funded by OVW called the Blueprint for Safety. Serving as both system advocate and coordinator of the men's nonviolence program, he is instrumental in the evolving work being done in Duluth. Scott trains nationally and internationally on the components of the Duluth Model of intervention and helps develop new resource materials and curricula for use in communities working to end violence against women. Scott has also co-authored the new DAIP men's nonviolence curriculum Creating a Process of Change for Men Who Batter. Scott is a contract trainer and forensic interviewer for First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center in Duluth. Scott is responsible for conducting forensically sound interviews of children suspected of being physically or sexually abused as part of a criminal investigation. Scott also conducts trainings nationally on how to conduct interviews with children and work from a multidisciplinary team approach in the investigation of child abuse. Scott works independently as an expert witness in criminal and civil trials to explain how the tactics of abusers and the associated risks generated by battering are linked to the counterintuitive behaviors of victims.
Melissa Scaia is the Executive Director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) in Duluth and Advocates for Family Peace (AFFP) in Itasca and northern St. Louis counties. As the executive director of both organizations she provides leadership to the organizations, provides expertise in the development of the Coordinated Community Responses (CCR) for Itasca and St. Louis counties, and co-facilitates a group for men who batter. She is also a consulting trainer for a number of national training organizations on domestic violence and child abuse, including Praxis International and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She wrote her master's thesis on the effects of domestic violence on children and wrote her doctoral dissertation proposal to address supervised visitation services for battered women. She has contributed to numerous publications related to supervised visitation and domestic violence. Melissa co-wrote a curriculum and DVD for working with men who batter as fathers titled Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter. She also co-authored a curriculum and DVD with Ellen Pence, PhD and Laura Connelly for working with women who have used violence in intimate relationships titled, Turning Points: A Nonviolence Curriculum for Women. She has been selected for numerous roundtable advisory discussion groups for the Office on Violence Against Women through the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence related to differentiating types of domestic violence, custody, and batterers intervention programs. Most recently she was named to a National Consulting Group on Batterers Intervention Programs and as a National Advisory Committee Member for the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Melissa and Scott each provide expert testimony in both criminal domestic violence cases and in custody trials within family court. Most of their expert work has been done in Minnesota courtrooms although Scott has also testified in federal military court. Melissa started testifying in 2006 and Scott has been testifying since 2011. Between them, they have testified in over 30 trials. Of the cases in which Melissa and Scott have testified on behalf of the prosecution, there have only been three acquittals. Though both Melissa and Scott would be willing to testify on behalf of a victim of battering charged with a crime, neither of them have done so at this point.
This webinar is helpful for both new and experienced domestic violence expert witnesses, as well as people who are considering working as an expert in the future. This may include social workers, academics, and other professionals who might provide general testimony about battering and its effects. Additionally, we encourage prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to participate.
Preparing for Your First Case as a Domestic Violence Expert Witness
This webinar series is supported by Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K129 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.