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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

January 12, 2015

SHERRI DAVIS, et al., Defendants

For SHERRI DAVIS, Defendant: Barry Coburn, LEAD ATTORNEY, COBURN & GREENBAUM, PLLC, Washington, DC.


For USA, Plaintiff: Jessica N. Moran, LEAD ATTORNEY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Tax Division, NCES, Washington, DC; Tiwana W. Fleming, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Tax Division, Washington, DC; Mark S. McDonald, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Tax Division, Tax Division - NCE, Washington, DC.

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Defendant Sherri Davis is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent income tax returns, and filing false and fraudulent individual income tax returns. See Superseding Indictment [ECF No. 26]. The Government alleges that from January 2006 through April 2013, the defendants, along with other individuals, conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service through the preparation and filing of false and fraudulent income tax returns that claimed fraudulent deductions, expenses, losses, and credits. Id. at ¶ 12. Pending before the Court is the Government's Motion in Limine to Exclude Defendant Sherri Davis's Noticed Medical Expert Witness Testimony [ECF No. 41]. The Government argues that the Court should exclude the testimony of Dr. Robert Madsen, a clinical and forensic psychologist proffered by Ms. Davis to testify that she suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (" ADHD" ) and to describe the effects of ADHD on her functioning. Upon consideration of the parties' briefing[1] and the entire record in this case, including the

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testimony at the December 10, 2014 hearing, the Court concludes that Dr. Madsen's testimony is inadmissible so the motion shall be granted.

I. Standard for Admissibility

Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that expert testimony must " help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue." Fed.R.Evid. 702(a). Under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms.., 509 U.S. 579, 597, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993), a district court must ensure that an expert's testimony is reliable and relevant by acting as a " gatekeep[er]" and " excluding any expert testimony that is not sufficiently reliable or helpful to the jury." Parsi v. Daioleslam, 852 F.Supp.2d 82, 85 (D.D.C. 2012) (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597).

This Circuit has held that expert testimony regarding a defendant's mental condition may be admissible to negate specific intent. United States v. Childress, 58 F.3d 693, 727-28, 313 U.S.App.D.C. 133 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (per curiam). In Childress, the court held that the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 does not prohibit admissibility of mental condition evidence where

(a) the evidence is admitted not as an affirmative defense to excuse the defendant from responsibility for his acts, but to negate specific intent when that is an element of the charged act itself, and (b) the expert limits his testimony to his " diagnoses, the facts upon which those diagnoses are based, and the characteristics of any mental diseases or defect the experts believe the defendant possessed during the relevant time period," staying clear of " directly or indirectly opining on the [ultimate] issue of specific intent."

Id. at 728 (quoting United States v. Gold, 661 F.Supp. 1127, 1131 (D.D.C. 1987) (internal citations omitted)); see also Fed.R.Evid. 704 (" In a criminal case, an expert witness must not state an opinion about whether the defendant did or did not have a mental state or condition that constitutes an element of the crime charged or of a defense. Those matters are for the trier of fact alone." ).

When a criminal defendant offers psychiatric evidence, the court must carefully administer the evidence to ensure that it " is relevant to negate specific intent as opposed to 'presenting] a dangerously confusing theory of defense more akin to justification and excuse '" Childress, 58 F.3d at 727-28 (quoting United States v. Cameron, 907 F.2d 1051, 1067 (11th Cir. 1990)). Even if the proffered psychological testimony is potentially admissible as relevant to specific intent, this Court must " determine whether the testimony is grounded in sufficient scientific support to warrant use in the courtroom, and whether it would aid the jury in reaching a decision on the ultimate issues." Childress, 58 F.3d at 728 (quoting United States v. Brawner,471 F.2d 969, 1002, 153 U.S.App.D.C. 1 ...

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