Sunday, July 07, 2013

Being an Expert Witness

I’ve been reviewing a recent court case in which the U.S. government prevailed and was allowed to screw up a tribal traditional cultural landscape.  It’s discouraging and frustrating.  It appears that the tribe’s attorneys shot down their own case by failing to challenge a lot of the government’s assertions about what constitutes adequate historic property identification and evaluation under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) – assertions that I know very well were open to challenges that the attorneys apparently lacked the experience and knowledge.

My frustration leads me to think that I ought to take this opportunity to remind readers – without meaning to be spammy – that I’m available as an expert witness to anyone who may be thinking of bringing a case against the government based on NHPA Section 106 and impacts on traditional cultural places.  I’ve performed such services off and on over the last four decades or so, generally to good effect.  I think I can be helpful in critiquing agency compliance with Section 106 and other laws (e.g. the National Environmental Policy Act), particularly where traditional cultural properties, tribal interests, historic property identification standards, and consultation practices are involved.
Naturally I do like to get paid for expert witness work, but I’ve done a lot of it for free and am willing to do more; a client just gets my more undivided attention if they pay for it.  When I am engaged for pay, I try to keep my rates low, especially for indigenous groups, local communities and organizations, environmental groups, and private citizens.

Having spent most of my professional life trying to make sure that tribal and community cultural concerns are effectively addressed under the environmental and historic preservation laws, I’m appalled at what’s happened to practice under those laws in the last decade or so.  If I can be of any help to plaintiffs trying to promote more responsibility and responsiveness on the part of the federal government, I’d be happy to try.  Contact me at

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