Points To Keep In Mind When Preparing An Expert Witness For Trial

August 24, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

Using expert witnesses has become a necessity for properly conducting a trial in today’s world. Their use helps solidify your case by giving the jury salient points for them to consider. In addition, an authoritative opinion is also expected; the average person wants to know that the arguments the attorney is raising are backed by scientific thought. It is therefore important to make sure that the experts themselves are thoroughly prepared before putting them on the stand.  Whether you are getting ready for a divorce trial or are engaging in something more specialized like maritime trial preparation, here is some advice for how to make sure that your experts are ready when they go to testify.

An Agitated Expert Does Not Help Your Case

Confidence is paramount when the jury hears what the expert has to say. It is one thing to hear them calmly give their opinion under direct examination. It is quite another, however, for them to become unnerved and upset while they are being cross-examined. Nothing hurts their credibility more than showing a loss of composure. Therefore, a consistent demeanor throughout their testimony serves to reinforce your case. In order to achieve this, practice with them. Play the role of the opposing attorney and ask the type of questions they are certain to face when they are on the stand. It cannot be understated how important it is for them to be prepared for what they will be facing. In addition, assure them that you are there to keep the other side in check and will object to any questions designed to harass. Keeping the other side’s line of questioning on track will guarantee that they answer the questions they have trained for.

Let the Expert Educate the Jury

Ultimately, your witness is not there to just answer questions. Their role is pedagogical; in other words, they are necessary for helping the jury understand concepts that they might not be familiar with. It may be difficult for an expert to come from a world that understands their language into one that is completely unfamiliar with it. It is imperative they understand that they choose their words carefully. Limit the use of scientific jargon and focus instead on describing concepts in “layman’s terms“. Their description should have a “flow” to it that carefully goes from one point to another. It needs to be clear, concise, and understandable. This is the best way for communicating to the jury what you are trying to prove.

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Technology is Key

Testifying can be a nerve-wracking event. It is not uncommon that an expert witness will want to take notes with them to the stand. While this impulse is normal, it can serve to undermine their credibility. You don’t want to give the appearance to the jury that they are searching for the answer. Rather, use technology to help explain their opinions. Powerpoint is a great tool for organizing their thoughts, demonstrating their points, and relating their positions to the jury.

The use of expert witnesses is an excellent technique for improving your chance of success at trial. However, it can also backfire on you if you are not careful. Keeping the tips above in mind will help ensure that this will not happen.