A so-called Peeps expert was allowed to testify Wednesday in a Boulder eviction case, explaining that — unlike other foods that would rot when left exposed in an apartment hallway — the sugar-encrusted treats “become hard and kind of crunchy.”
A central question in the jury trial of Carol “Chay” Burdick is whether the Peeps and other Easter decorations she left on her doorway last spring were garbage or artistic expression. Trash wasn’t allowed under her lease with the Meadow Creek Apartments in Gunbarrel, but attorneys say the lease never addressed holiday decor.
Andrew Novick, 40, of Denver, took the stand Wednesday. Novick is a self-described Peeps lover and collector of Peeps memorabilia who hosts an annual barbecue (peepsbq.com) that features the confection.
He was called to testify on behalf of Burdick, who is in the middle of a three-day civil trial in Boulder County Court after claiming she was wrongfully evicted from her apartment over her Easter decorations.
He explained that, unlike other foods that Burdick could have nailed to her wall, Peeps simply harden over time.
While it may seem ridiculous to certify an expert witness on the subject of Peeps, the FRE permits expert witness testimony on any topic that would be “helpful” to the jury. Requirements for admissibility of an expert witness opinion (under FRE):
- Opinion must be helpful to the jury (expert uses specialized knowledge to reach conclusion the average juror could not figure out herself),
- Witness must be qualified (area of expertise must match area of opinion),
- Witness must believe in opinion to reasonable degree of certainty,
- Opinion must be supported by a proper factual basis (admitted evidence, personal knowledge, or inadmissible evidence reasonably relied upon), and
- Opinion must be based on reliable principles that were reliably applied (Daubert/Kumho standard):
Note: Judge David Archuleta refused to hear additional expert witness testimony from a former art teacher who would have expounded on the use of Peeps as a legitimate art medium and the third-place runner up of an annual Peeps diorama contest.
From the Boulder Daily Camera.