Expert witnesses exist to lend academic credibility to your case. If your expert witness performs poorly, you not only miss out on that credibility—you lose even more. Use these five tips to make sure that your expert witnesses are prepared to face both deposition and a jury.
1. Make sure the expert knows why you have retained them.
When you call an expert witness, you are calling on their reputation in their field: invoking their authority on their domain on knowledge as it relates to your case.
Don’t let opposing counsel trick them into calling their credibility into question by taking the line of questioning outside the witness’s comfort area. If this happens, the witness should say that they cannot answer because they lack the sufficient knowledge.
Along the same lines, the opposition may also try to get your expert witnesses to tell stories that conflict. Each of your witnesses should be clear on exactly why you have called on their expertise, and decline to answer any questions that fall outside of that scope.
2. This is a courtroom, not a classroom.
By nature of their extensive knowledge, many expert witnesses tend to be teachers, professors, and academics. These are people who feel a natural drive to inform. That drive absolutely must be suppressed in a court room environment.
Teach your witnesses to answer the question, and only the question. They should not try to “educate” opposing counsel. If a question contains poor science or demonstrates a misunderstanding of an issue at hand, your witness should make a note of the fact that the question is poorly or confusingly worded, and is unanswerable. They shouldn’t attempt to assist opposing counsel in rewording the question.
3. Win over the judge and the jury
Your witness should appear at ease, relatable, approachable, and in control at all times. Prepare your witness for tricks opposing counsel may employ to attempt to gain control of the rhythm of the questions and answers. Eye contact is also important. Teach your witness to maintain eye contact with whomever is cross examining them, even when formulating an answer to the question. This will inspire an impression trustworthiness and certainty.
The witness should not be bated into aggression, and attempt to remain level-headed with all of their responses. In short, the witness should be trained to prevent themselves from being tricked into appearing unlikable or dishonest.
An expert witness is good, but a well-trained expert witness is invaluable.
We hope that these tips will help you as you prepare your experts for testimony, for more in-depth information, click here to claim your free attorney review of the entire The Perfect Witness witness training program!