What’s it like to be an expert witness in Poland

By first hand account, of Piotr Maślanka

I’ve been twice to the Circuit Court of Rzeszów. One time was me trying to actually apply for being an expert witness, where the Miss Secretary dutifully stomped each of my xerox (university diploma, special courses certificates) with a big-ass [TRUE TO THE ORIGINAL] stamp. The second was the actual swearing in “ceremony”, if such can be called an event which consisted of basically 3 guys reciting formulas.

I have received my invitation to the court basically from a day to another and I went to the Circuit Court at the appointed date. There I was greeted by Miss Secretary, who told me to wait, and another gentleman that was being sworn in as an expert witness (to USA friends reading this: an expert witness in Poland has to be sworn in). So we recited the formula, and I received my own signer paper: proof that I am an expert witness from now on.

Institution of expert witness in modern Poland

An expert witness in Poland is an (to put it bluntly) expert who is recognized by the local Circuit Court and made available to a bunch of other entities (such as Police units, local courts, and such) to provide statement in the form of evidence (so this is not regarded as a side say of one of the sides, but as an actual form of evidence!

Once he’s on such a list, he’ll have to respond to a bunch of other entities (prosecutor’s office, the Police and the court) to assist them in doing some things. One thing is that technically you can’t refuse, because you will be held in contempt of court. Other thing is that most judges or court officials at least try to dial in to discuss the possibility. A yet completely other thing will be the payout – it’s set state-wide and by the central government. Right now is is around 32,39 PLN per hour tax included.

The first call

I received the first call from a nice gentleman, who turned out to be a Judge at a local District Court in Tarnobrzeg. He asked me if it would be possible to review this particular work. I agreed.

Two weeks later I receive a heavy package – it turns out to be all the cast files in a modern civil lawsuit. At least half of them is proof of delivery or proof of payment). It was opinionated at a relatively simple case of below than 10 000 PLN. I won’t cite it for the possibility of disclosing lawsuits. I received a nice commendation from the court back there on the quality of my work.

Cases since

I will type each of the types of work an expert witness can perform:

  • Judging civil cases (also between enterprises, USA friends: this is a separate civil case between entrepreneurs in Poland, a separate kind of court takes these cases)
  • Opinionating a private case (paid in by the invoice issued to the client) – defense against an actual penal case
  • Had to unlock some phones for the local prosecutor. I’ve taken no case of “please decrypt me a phone” cases anymore, as the latest phones are just NSA-degree of secure (the best thing you can do for yourself – disable DEBUG mode (or Programmer’s Mode). Please. half of the phones I exploited has this enabled.
  • Assisting in an arrest, securing the data on the place on a document’s related frauds – made directly by the Police. I talked to a nice gentleman from the Police, he turned out to be my guide for the part of this morning. We arrived at the suspect’s house at 6 AM. Unfortunately, he had his daughter (like 7 years) waiting to hear from us when she’ll be able to see daddy

Is it worth it?

As a money-making to a worthwhile computer class scientists most feasibly no. Rates start at 32,39 PLN per hour, which is definitely an excrement flew in the computer scientist’s face. I don’t recommend it like that. Things improve to 45,63 zł if you got your PhD, but let’s take a wild guess – how many of ours have?

But if you’re looking to make some new friends, business-wise, or simply looking to return your worth to the community (as I decided, I even did not charge the Police in the document fraud case).

Nothing could have prepared me for such a life of adventure, and waking up at 4 AM. I’m jealous of our boys and girls in the blue standing up time. Basically I need jumper cables to work at this time. A nice thing to have in your CV, I guess. It also makes you appreciate more of the legal details of maintaining an everyday existence.

Please if you suck at computer science. do not become an expert witness! If your opinion sucks, then the Court is basically bound by your opinion to act as if received evidence, and not hearsay. The damage you can do and the potential of perverting the justice is just too great, and I’m once had the unfortunate chance to write a personal opinion to a guy’s penal case, where the witness basically botched his opinion.

I’ve also had to work with a woman those Google account was hacked. I took her in at my office, explained that she needs to go to the Police and report that crime, but most for moral support. She wanted to pay me for it, but I declined. Imagine it, once upon a time, you stand waiting at a bus station and a woman calls “My account has been hacked!”. Ew, m’lady I’m not room service xD I have briefed her in the legal consideration of the case, and helped her set up 2 Factor Authentication.

Seriously, if you don’t have it enabled, just stop reading and do that.

Didn’t knew an expert witness is a public trust job.

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