Wakeman v. Commonwealth (P)

In a rape trial, a nurse was qualified to testify as an expert in the area of sexual assault forensic examination despite not having a formal certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

Because the General Assembly has not enacted a special expert qualification statute for nurses called to testify regarding forensic exams in sexual assault cases, Rule 2:702(a) governs whether a nurse should be qualified as an expert on the subject. Notably absent from the rule is any requirement that an expert carry a particular certification in order to serve as an expert.

The nurse in this case earned a nursing degree in 2010 and had worked as a nurse since then. She had additional education and training regarding the performance of forensic examinations, including completing all of the training necessary to obtain SANE certification. She had also served in her hospital’s forensic nursing program for three years, performing forensic nursing examinations unsupervised for three years. Therefore, under Rule 2:702(a)(i), she possessed “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge” regarding sexual assault forensic examination and “a degree of knowledge of [the] subject matter beyond that of persons of common intelligence and ordinary experience.”


Wakeman v. Commonwealth (P), No. 1631-17-4, Nov. 27, 2018. CAV (Russell) from Shenandoah (Hupp).

Categories: Court of Appeals of Virginia, Opinions, Published

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