A Connecticut judge has ruled that a psychologist and ophthalmologist lacked the expertise required to testify as expert witnesses on the use of masks.
The Mask Mandate
In June 2020, the State of Connecticut Department of Education released a publication titled, “Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together.” The publication was Connecticut’s comprehensive plan for returning to in-school, full-time instruction for the 2020-21 academic year.
The plan required students to be educated and engaged in new health practices and protocols to prevent the spread of diseases.The publication specifically mentioned social distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, the use of face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth, respiratory and cough etiquette, and enhancing cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.
CT Freedom Alliance Lawsuit
In August, four families and the CT Freedom Alliance filed a suit against the State of Connecticut Department of Education and Miguel Cardona, the commissioner of the Department of Education. The plaintiffs alleged that the mask requirement was a violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-168(a), Article Eight of the Connecticut Constitution, the right to due process of law, and a form of negligence.
The complaint asked the court to order the Department of Education to rescind all requirements regarding the use of face coverings, masks, and face shields by students in schools. The plaintiffs also requested the court to issue an order stating that no educational agency or school within the State of Connecticut can require the wearing of face masks at any time during the school day, during after-school programs, or during transport to and from school property.
Proposed Expert Testimony
The CT Freedom Alliance presented two experts to testify on its behalf, psychologist Andrew Kaufman and ophthalmologist James Meehan Jr. Attorney for the state, Darren Cunningham, challenged the qualifications of the proposed experts, arguing that their work made them “ideological advocates for one side of the issue rather than experts on whether masks can cause harm.”
Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher held a hearing on the issue. At the hearing, Kaufman testified that he believed that viruses do not exist and that COVID-19 is a hoax. It was revealed that Meehan had authored a blog post that stated that herd immunity will protect the vulnerable members of society and prevent pandemics.
Judge Moukawsher determined that the two proposed experts lacked specific expertise and held anti-science views that made them unsuitable to testify in this case. He stated that while Meehan is an expert ophthalmologist, he was not credible to testify on anything related to COVID-19. Judge Moukawsher ruled that Kaufman was not qualified because he could not allow an expert testimony “on a matter of life or death” from “a man who defies science so firmly established as to be beyond rational dispute.”
Judge Moukawsher gave the CT Freedom Alliance one week to come up with new experts. CT Freedom Alliance proposed two new experts, epidemiologist Knut Whittkowski, Ph.D., Sc.D., and psychiatrist Mark McDonald, M.D. The court has scheduled a future hearing to determine if these two proposed experts are qualified to testify in this matter.