Historians as Expert Witnesses: Consulting and Testifying

AHA Session 91
National Council on Public History 2
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Murray Hill West (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Edward Angel, Morgan, Angel & Associates, LLC
Emily Greenwald, Historical Research Associates, Inc.
E. Richard Hart, independent consulting historian
Scott A. Miltenberger, JRP Historical Consulting, LLC
Ian Smith, Historical Research Associates, Inc.

Session Abstract

A companion to the proposed session “Historical Consulting: Pursuing A Career Beyond Academia,” this roundtable will explore the specialty of historical consulting in support of litigation. The participants will address a variety of concerns unique to litigation consulting, including how to properly vet requests to serve as an expert witness, the difference between consulting and testifying experts, best practices for litigation-related historical research and writing, and helping attorneys think historically. The participants have served as consulting and testifying experts in cases involving Native American issues, water rights, contaminated sites, religious freedom, and public land law. Their clients include American Indian tribes, corporations, and local, state, and federal government agencies. They have prepared expert witness reports as well as provided expert testimony in both deposition and trial settings.

Two of the panel’s participants—Emily Greenwald and Ian Smith—contributed to the National Council on Public History’s (NCPH) 2015 special issue of The Public Historian entitled “The Historian as Expert Witness.” Meanwhile, panelist E. Richard Hart’s 2018 book American Indian History on Trial: Historical Expertise in Tribal Litigation offers invaluable insight into expert historical work, as well as providing concrete recommendations for those considering a litigation consulting career outside of academia. Together, the panelists will draw on nearly a century of combined experience in litigation consulting to provide conference attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the work of expert witness historians, from the archives to the courtroom.

We anticipate that this session will appeal both to graduate students and PhDs interested in consulting as a career, as well as to academics who have considered or are working as expert witnesses alongside their other responsibilities.

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