In Which North Carolina Strives to Create an American Christian Caliphate

I would be surprised to learn that attempting to be an expert witness in a trial is ‘practicing’ a trade, especially when you, yourself, make it clear that you don’t have a license.

In his deposition, Wayne testified truthfully that he was not (and never had been) a licensed engineer. In fact, like the majority of engineers nationwide, Wayne was not required to get a license since he worked for a company under the state’s “industrial exception.” Instead of saying Wayne’s testimony was wrong, the defendants said it was illegal—because Wayne did not have a license to express these opinions. Astoundingly, the Board seems to agree. In May, it sent a certified letterto Wayne’s home stating that they were investigating him. In North Carolina, practicing without a license can result in criminal misdemeanor charges.

No one should need a license to express an opinion. It should not be a crime to be an avowedly unqualified expert witness. The remedy for being an unqualified expert witness should be to have your testimony be refused or stricken or to have it be disbelieved.

IANAL, but the board definition of ‘practicing’ engineering seems unreasonably broad.

I just think if you ask a licensing board can you do the thing it does without a license, it’s going to say no. It’s just that in conservative states whose government is run indifferently there’s no voice to push back against such a board.

Go to court with the stakes being expanding the power of government or reducing that power and a NC judge is going to be hard pressed to decide. But you’ll need some third part voice telling the board its limitations.

This is a great point, there are a number of expert witnesses called that no longer practice within their expertise. We could add the likes of the FBI’s John Douglas, or former Forensic Pathologist Michael Baden. Experts don’t need to be currently practicing to be experts.

Being up front, I am a licensed civil engineer with NCBELS. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the report, but preparing something called “Stormwater Flow Characteristics of a 36” Reinforced Concrete Pipe Tidalholm Village Diverter Line" sounds like it could be crossing the line between opinion and practicing engineering. If the board were to allow something like this to slide, it would erode their ability to police other more egregious activities by people with less background than Mr. Nutt. In the past, all expert engineering testimony that I have been involved with, primarily hydrology and hydraulics, has come from professional engineers.

I would also nitpick the statement that a majority of engineers nationwide don’t become licensed. In the fields of civil, structural and environmental engineering, I would say licensure is extremely high as they are typically preparing plans and reports that can be a matter of public safety. Electrical and mechanical only seem to become licensed if they are also preparing plans, but seem to be less inclined to licensure.

Mr. Nutt seems to be a (retired) professional engineer. In any event, the document he prepared was for expert witness testimony, and the court is free to disregard it. I’m objecting to the idea that it can reasonably be considered a crime to have offered it. He’s not claiming to be licensed; there isn’t any deception or attempt to claim that he is in what he did. Indeed, he makes it clear he isn’t, which permits the audience to decide to disregard everything he says.

It’s like I appeared in court and said ‘I’m not a licensed engineer but I think that pipe diameter is too small’. That’s a crime?

Do state medical boards take this same approach, preventing with the threat of prosecution e.g. an accredited academic medical researcher (or retired one) from appearing as an expert medical witness despite not being a licensed medical doctor? I doubt it.

As far as I can tell he was never licensed in NC. Licenses are typically identified as retired in the directory once someone retires. Additionally, there are no violations listed for someone under that name and implies there was never a license. He was likely working under a firm’s general license, but didn’t have the education necessary for licensure. I have known a few people like this, but they can only have their name on the report as the preparer under the supervision of a professional engineer.

An opinion would be that the 36" pipe is too small because it flooded. IMO it crossed the line into practice of engineering under the purview of the board when a report was prepared with calculations to indicate the pipe was undersized.

I mean, the story covers this. He’s educated as an engineer and worked as an engineer under the industrial license exemption for DuPont for forty years. He didn’t need a license to be an engineer. He’s a retired engineer.

I was curious so I did some looking… I appears to vary by state, some requiring no license, some a license in the state, some any state, some in-state or bordering states … expert-witness-by-state.pdf (

Helpful, thanks. I imagine if you volunteer or are called as an expert witness in a state that requires a license, and you say you don’t have a license, they’ll say thanks but no thanks, not charge you with a crime? I dunno.

However, he isn’t a retired professional engineer as you said in your previous post. I mistook the NC firm licensure for an industrial exemption. An industrial exemption license only allows an engineer to practice work incidental to that of the industrial business they work for.

He is, for any reasonable definition of the words.

But I can see we’re not going to agree.

Just going to say I appreciate your insight into this and his case as well. We come from varied backgrounds here but it’s nice to hear the comments of someone in the field that this decision will affect.

I was briefly an NC PE (electrical) but lapsed because I didn’t need the cert and my work wouldn’t pay for ongoing training if I didn’t need it.

In this case it seems like they have attacked the wrong target, since he was very clear he was presenting his best work but NOT as a licensed engineer. Maybe this is just because they have no mechanism to force all the courts or all the lawyers to ONLY use registered PEs for testimony, which is likely their ideal end? So they attack the little guy.

This bit sounds full-on bonkers:

Wayne is not the only North Carolinian to be subject to the Board’s expansive definition of what requires a license. Earlier this year, Michael Jones, a Goldsboro photographer, sued the same board after it threatened him for selling photographs and maps he made using his drone. Just like Wayne’s opinions (which were not being used to submit engineering plans to the state), Michael’s photos were simply informational.

I mean, I’d like to know more, because I can’t rely grasp what licensing requirement a photographer ran up against. It sure sounds like overreach.

Like i said i suspect it’s because conservative led state governments are generally completely indifferent to actual governance, so through inertia and lack of oversight, state boards can paradoxically become more not less influential in them, at least until Fox News catches wind.

I also suspect it’s an official way of reinforcing good old boy networks that are so traditional in southern states.

No more grace period for vote by mail - if you’re late, your vote is trash.

With a GOP postmaster, what could go wrong?

That’s not a veto-proof majority. I don’t see Cooper signing it.

I’d need a bit more information on what was presented or portrayed to clients, but do agree on this one being a potential over reach. Consumer drones can make georeferenced images and maybe he added publicly available GIS based parcel data on top of it. To me this doesn’t seem much different than going to the County GIS website to view the property and make a quick exhibit. Same as the GIS website, as long as it is stamped for informational purposes, it shouldn’t cross the line into aerial surveying.

I hate to clutter up this thread, but don’t see this as an issue due to a conservative state government. Every professional board is this way regardless of state. To me it is no different than the medical board going after a doctor practicing with out a license.