The Expert Witness Dilemma
Dr. Jonathan Strauss, Accounting Professor was contacted by a group of attorneys and asked to be an expert witness in the Jefferson County Bankruptcy Filing case. The situation had been in the news for over two years. Corruption of every kind had led to several Commissioners, contractors and others being fined and/or sent to jail for their part in the corruption. JPMC was sanctioned by the SEC and fined for their involvement in the case. Strauss discovered there was more than one interpretation of how GASB 34 and GASB 58 could be applied to issues that were integral to the Jefferson County bankruptcy trial. Strauss was being asked to testify as an expert witness on those very issues. While Strauss found the issues being evaluated interesting and the work financially rewarding, he had to decide whether he could support the particular position on those issues that the attorney's representing Jefferson County wanted him to take. He knew if he did decide to testify, his testimony would be subjected to detailed scrutiny by highly skilled professionals representing the counter parties in the litigation. He also knew that if he made a mistake in developing the support for his position, it was very likely that his errors would be highly publicized in the national financial press because of the significance of the case. Users of this case will be asked to put themselves in Strauss's shoes and determine whether a particular position can be sufficiently supported to justify the risk of testifying in bankruptcy court in such a high profile litigation.