What You Need to Know About Preparing an Expert Witness

Crime and legal television shows make it look simple to utilize an expert witness to tilt a case in favor of your client but it’s not as easy a process as it might appear. It takes time to prepare a case and make sure the proper people, like opposing counsel and the court reporter, are notified of witnesses.

After you’ve selected the proper expert witness for your case, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Prepare the expert. Give them enough time to review the case including the theory of the other attorney so they can anticipate questions not only from you but from the other side. Even if they wrote a report for the case, it may have been months prior so give them time to familiarize themselves with their reports again. The clearer they can be, the better for your client and case.
  2. Answer the question asked. Because they’re well versed in their area of interest, they tend to tell more of the details than a jury or opposing counsel needs to hear. The less details and more specifics they can give, the better for your client. Too much information can be questioned on cross examination and become damaging to your case.
  3. Remind them of their audience. It’s not the opposing attorney; it’s the jury. Stick to the facts and science of what they know about the case and try not to contradict themselves on cross-examination or argue with the other attorney.
  4. Speak slowly and loudly. This goes for you and your witness. Not only will it resonate with the judge and/or jury, it will help the court reporter accurately record what’s happening without asking for the witness to repeat themselves.
  5. Don’t forget the court reporter. In the midst of a case involving many witnesses, attorneys may forget to notify the court reporter of the names of those appearing, including the spelling, professional titles, and industry-specific lingo. It makes the court reporter’s job easier, and proceedings run smoother, when they have the list ahead of time.

Having the testimony of an expert witness can make the difference in the outcome of your next case. Take the time to prepare them to not only effectively answer your questions but also those of opposing counsel. It’s a win-win for you and your client.

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