James A. Haney


The North Carolina Supreme Court made significant progress toward resolving the uncertainty in the law on the admissibility of medical expert opinion evidence in State v. Wade. Since State v. David, the rule in North Carolina was that an expert must base his opinion testimony on either (1) "personal knowledge or observation" or (2) "a hypothetical question addressed to him, in which the pertinent facts are assumed to be true, or rather, assumed to be so found by the jury." After David several cases were decided which liberalized the rule considerably while others held fast to David. Without having overruled or reconciled any of these cases, the Court appeared to have "a convenient precedent for the next decision, whatever its tenor may be." The next decision, which fell in line with and clarified the line of cases which more liberally allowed admission of expert opinion evidence, was Wade. The Court held that a medical expert may testify to the information on which he based his opinion, even though obtained from the patient himself, provided the information is inherently reliable.



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