Margaret T. Waller
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Judge's Name: Margaret T. Waller
Work Address: Ninth Judicial Court
City: Kissimmee, Osceola County
State: Florida, 34741
Jurisdiction: Ninth Judicial Court
Case Number: CR97-1808
Type of Case: Criminal, Child Sexual Abuse
Documentation: Copy of the Order Granting the State's Motion in Limine to Exclude Testimony of Expert Witness, signed by Judge Waller and dated September 22, 1999.  A copy of the Curriculum Vitae of Ralph C. Underwager, Ph.D.

The Order grants the state's motion to exclude expert witness testimony, in part because the judge concludes the degrees of Dr. Underwager are all theological and therefore he is not qualified as an expert.  "The Court File contains a copy of Dr. Underwager's  curriculum vitae, which reveals that his degrees are all related to the study of theology and none were awarded for the study of psychology. ... Dr. Underwager's career is in large part involved with the Lutheran church including twenty-three years as a minister.  Likewise, his research is church affiliated and while his vita does detail counseling experience, there is no formal academic background to support that work.  Therefore the court finds that Dr. Underwager does not qualify as a clinical psychologies with a specialization that would allow his testimony in the instant case to aid the jury in ifs fact finding."

Comments:  It is extremely difficult to understand how a reasonably sentient person reading a CV which clearly states there is Ph.D. in clinical Psychology awarded by the University of Minnesota in 1970 could so grossly misunderstand that and think that the University of Minnesota awards theological degrees.  The CV also contains the work experience at a medical clinic as a psychologist, teaching psychology at college and university level, and the information that Dr. Underwager is licensed as a psychologist in the state of Minnesota, and that he has been awarded the honored status of Fellow of the American Psychological Society based on the recognition of his work as an outstanding, sustained, and distinguished contribution to the science of psychology.  It is also the case that the CV identifies the three national research projects conducted by Dr. Underwager.  The funding for two of them was from the National Institute for Mental Health and the third was funded by a private foundation.  There is nothing to suggest that the research projects were church-affiliated.

    The unmistakable factual errors in the ruling suggest the judge was biased and committed to the prosecution and a result of guilty.  She chose to prejudice the defendant's case by distorting and misrepresenting the information given to her.

Type of Error:  This is an error in making a ruling that harms the ability of the defense to present its case.  It is either a deliberate error or laziness in examining the evidence.

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