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EXPERT WITNESS QUALIFICATIONS

Sometimes scenarios involving tree issues are only solved by going to court and having a judge or a jury listen to the facts and evidence to make a final decision that ends the case either in favor or against your particular case.

The following definitions may help you better understand the different roles consulting arborists assume responsibility for, and what requirements are needed for these and duties as it pertains to your particular situation. This is important to consider because a self-proclaimed “professional arborist” may or may not be accredited or capable of providing the expertise usually required to:

  • Appraise or assign value of a tree
  • Conduct a forensic investigation to determine why it is dying or has died
  • Assist legal representatives in understanding the evidence or facts of a forensic tree investigation
  • Conduct a hazard and risk assessment of a tree
  • Perform as an advocate for your side of a case
  • Provide information under oath at a legal pre-trial deposition
  • Testify in open court to the facts and evidence of a case
  • Act as a mediator or neutral facilitator to both sides of a case

*Source: American Society of Consulting Arborists. Standards of Professional Practice.

Advocate

A consulting arborist who takes on the role of Advocate represents, defends, or aids the interest of one particular Client to achieve their particular interest or objective in a given situation.

Appraisal

The act or process of reaching a monetary opinion of properly defined value with is Disinterested, Impartial, Independent, and Objective and of unambiguously reporting that opinion. Distinguished from Valuation.

Arboricultural Consulting

A Profession which involves the Independent and Objective application of technical knowledge, analytical skills and Professional judgment to arboricultural-related facts and circumstances to provide observations, conclusions and appropriate recommendations.

Consulting Forensic Expert

An expert who assists one side in a dispute to understand evidence, factual elements of the dispute or relative strengths and weaknesses of issues. A Consulting Forensic Expert does not testify before a trier-of-fact and is distinguished from an Expert Witness/Testifying Expert.
* This type of Consultant can act as an Advocate.

Expert Witness

A witness qualified as an Expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education in a particular field. An Expert Witness assists a trier-of-fact to understand evidence or determine a fact in issue by testifying – in the form of an opinion or otherwise – to scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.

Mediation

A method of dispute resolution in which an impartial third party (mediator) assists the parties in reaching their own, voluntary settlement. The mediator cannot impose a decision. Distinguished from Arbitration.

Profession

An occupation or activity based on an organized body of specific knowledge and Expertise and which may be characterized by:

  • An advanced level of knowledge, training, and experience
  • The use of judgment in reaching conclusions
  • The acknowledgement of the trust and special confidence with is placed in the Profession by laypersons due to their reliance on Professional Expertise which the layperson does not possess and cannot easily acquire
  • Adherence to a body or code of Professional Ethics

Standard of Care

The ordinary and reasonable degree of care required of a prudent Professional under the circumstances. Defined as what another reasonably prudent Professional would do under the same or similar circumstances.

Valuation

An analysis or study of monetary value or the methodology used in determining monetary value or the giving of advice concerning monetary value, which is not constrained by the same duties as an Appraisal and which is not held out or reported as an Appraisal.

In all cases, and in whatever role you require of a consulting arborist, they should abide by three basic values of ethical conduct:

  1. Preservation and retention of client confidentiality
  2. Prevention of loyalty conflicts
  3. Independence in fact and appearance of professional judgment

Adherence by a Consultant to these three ethical core values is what distinguishes a Profession from a trade.