Expert witness typically makes excellent. They often have a friendly demeanor, solid credentials, and at least some litigation experience. Even still, anything may still go wrong, and in such a case, an expert could easily turn into a burden. We sought out and prepared a list of the worst experiences with expert witnesses in and out of the courtroom since one of the greatest ways to prevent a problem is by learning from others’ mistakes.
15 Best Expert Witness for Testifying Tips in 2022
We would especially want to thank the lawyers who shared their experiences with us.
The Definition of an Expert Witness
The judge’s ultimate judgment may be greatly influenced by the expert witnesses’ testimony. As a result, the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 702 sternly defines the qualifications of experts for expert admission. Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure spells out in detail who can be an expert witness and how much of their testimony can be used. An expert is only a credible expert witness if they meet the four basic pillars of FRE 702.
The Four Fundamental Principles of FRE 702
An expert witness must meet the following requirements in order to be admitted:
- Practicing in a field related to the case’s issue
- be knowledgeable in their area of expertise.
- They possess expertise gained through training, education, or work-related experience.
If and only if the expert’s professional knowledge will help the jury understand the facts, that person is qualified to give an opinion. The expert’s expertise must go beyond what the jury is capable of. As long as their area of expertise is pertinent, they don’t necessarily need to be the finest in their field or be fully informed about the case.
The expert’s evidence as a witness must be supported by:
- Sufficient information, factual information
- widely used and accepted concepts and techniques
- The subject’s proper use of the principles and techniques
As long as the Expert witness uses clear facts and follows accepted procedures in his or her field, the expert’s testimony can be used in court.
By supporting the fact finder, an expert must be able to strengthen the case. Consequently, the expert’s testimony needs to:
- Give a trustworthy opinion to assist the fact-finders in coming to a decision.
- Include sound scientific linkages to case-related evidence that was not previously obvious.
If an expert’s presumptions don’t match the case’s facts, they aren’t seen as being useful. The expert must give the jury information that is new and surprising. This is to make sure that the jury’s analysis is complete.
4. The framework
The expert’s judgment must be supported by fundamental details that other Expert witnesses on the same subject have concurred upon. The expert’s decision must be based on accurate information that is related to the problem at hand.
1# Draft a comprehensive retainer agreement
Any successful attorney-expert witness relationship is built on a thorough retainer agreement. In the retainer agreement, there should be a list of all the important terms and duties of both the lawyer and the expert. The fees for the expert, the basic requirements for getting ready, and the services to be provided should all be written down. If everyone’s expectations are clear from the start, it’s less likely that they’ll be misunderstood in the future.
2# Discuss any potential disqualification issues beforehand
Before the trial starts, it is very important for the expert to talk about anything that could cause them to be disqualified. For example, if the science supporting the expert view is deemed innovative and untested, the evidence of the expert may be excluded on substantial grounds. Other reasons why an expert might not be eligible include when he or she has worked for or been hired as an expert by the other side in the past. It’s important to talk about these problems as soon as possible because removing an expert from a case could be bad.
3# Plan the specifics of your testimony
Even though the main issues of the case should be listed in the retainer agreement, experts should always confirm what kind of testimony the lawyer is looking for. When it comes to very complicated scientific issues, the experts may need more information so that they can tailor their testimony. In order for the expert to be completely prepared, any studies or testing that must be done should also be specified.
4# Update your curriculum vitae
Even though experts will have the chance to prove their qualifications in court, it is very important that they have a short, up-to-date curriculum vitae that shows how knowledgeable they are in the relevant field. A good curriculum vitae that shows the Expert witness’s credentials in a clear way could even lead to the Expert witness being declared an expert without any arguments before the trial. This would save the time and effort of a voir dire.
5# Gather and inspect all necessary materials
All the required file elements must be gathered and swiftly analyzed in order to generate a fully formed opinion. As soon as it is possible, the lawyer should give the expert any materials he or she will need. It should also be made known if there are any restrictions on how the materials may be used, such as if a court has issued a protection order.
6# Determine whether a written report is required
Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure says that expert witnesses in federal courts (and in some state courts) must give a written report. Rule 26 says that experts must give the other side a report that summarises what they plan to say in court. All opinions the Expert witness will state and the rationale and reasoning for them must be included in the report. Because of this, experts should know about this requirement a long time before the report is due.
7# Be careful with written communications
If the above criteria are met, experts have to keep track of any written conversations. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that, in addition to outlining the basis for the expert’s opinion, the expert also disclose any exhibits the expert intends to use, the Expert witness’ qualifications, a list of other cases in which the expert testified, and a statement regarding the expert’s fee for testifying. As a result, the expert’s records may be discoverable.
8# Inquire about the availability of additional expert witnesses
The expert’s own testimony might be more focused if they were aware of any other experts who may be giving testimony. Each expert is free to focus on just one topic if other experts are going to talk about other parts of the problem. Instead of one expert giving a lot of testimony that might overlap with what another expert says later, it might be better for each expert to focus on their own sub-topic, especially when the case is very complicated or technical.
9# Describe your case’s theory
The main purpose of the expert’s evidence is to make a certain fact clear. If the expert understands the case theory and how their testimony fits into that story, they will stay on track for sure. If the expert keeps the testimony’s one main goal in mind, it is easier to write testimony that quickly answers the questions.
10# Be prepared at all times!
Whether or not an expert has previous experience testifying in front of a jury, it may still be nerve-wracking. Additionally, every lawyer, even the opposing counsel, has their own style, which an expert could take some time to adapt to. The expert and attorney should spend time analyzing the materials after the overall framework of the direct examination is accomplished. This might help to avoid blunders in the courtroom.
11# Experiment with nonverbal cues and body language
In the same vein, practicing how one seems to be a jury is crucial. Only half the battle is won by the testimony that is actually given. When deciding whether or not to believe an expert, a jury will look at their manner, posture, language, tone, and other things they say and do. In general, a jury should think that an expert is not only knowledgeable but also friendly and trustworthy.
12# Be ready in case a Daubert challenge arises
A Daubert motion, so named because it tries to eliminate unreliable or irrelevant expert witness testimony, is based on the Supreme Court decided Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), which established the standard for expert testimony. A court will take the Daubert considerations into account when considering whether or not to allow the testimony. Even though the list of considerations provided by the Daubert Court is not complete, all experts who are scheduled to testify in a jurisdiction that upholds that standard should become familiar with the case. One of the first ways that the other side’s lawyer can get rid of an expert is by using a Daubert challenge, which is often brought up before the trial even starts.
13# Pay close attention to the voir dire process
An expert may not always be excluded due to a Daubert challenge. The main goal of the voir dire procedure, which is very different from a Daubert challenge, is to find out if the expert is qualified to testify about the topic at hand. The expert provides testimony on his training, job history, education, and other credentials at the start of the direct examination. Opposing counsel then has the chance to grill the expert after this first exchange.
The direct examination could continue when the judge decides that the Expert witness is qualified to testify as an expert, the direct examination could continue. If the expert’s credentials aren’t clear or there’s a conflict of interest, the other side’s lawyer may be able to get the expert kicked out of the case. So, the credentials of an expert must be made clear right at the start of the direct examination, and any conflicts of interest should be found long before the trial.
14# A straightforward and easy examination
Although there are several strategies for conducting an effective direct examination, the fundamental objective is to make sure that the jury has a better understanding of the relevant facts. Because of this, an expert’s direct testimony should contain more than simply a dry repeat of technical terms. When feasible, the expert should describe the subject in simple words and break it down into smaller subjects or parallels. People will understand you much better if you speak slowly and clearly, so presentation is also very important.
15# Maintaining composure during cross-examination
Cross-exams are known for being aggressive. That does not, however, imply that the expert should engage in conflict or battle with the opposing counsel. Sometimes, how something is stated matters more than what is said. Although the expert’s direct testimony may be criticized by the opposing counsel, a measured rebuttal always wins. An expert may be able to deflect or pivot from a question and yet maintain credibility if he maintains control of his testimony. In spite of the fact that it is the opposing counsel’s responsibility to use all means at their disposal to attack the expert, the expert’s response to the circumstance can make all the difference.