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Argumentative Expert Witnesses in Court - How to Get Them Back on Track

When the legal team hires an expert witness that is passionate about his or her subject, it is possible that an argument may break out in the courtroom or when engaging in the topic involved in the case. It is important to get this professional back on track and ensure that the testimony or information is in line with the case or claim in the courtroom.

The Preparation for the Case

Generally, the expert witness will become part of the case early to test evidence and form an opinion based on the facts and materials of the case. These processes take time, and the preparations can also require days or even weeks to become strong and solid. The expert witness may form an opinion that is in line with the facts, but this expert may also become argumentative about the opinion formed as well. The argument could center around testing processes and methods or results. Others have strong arguments against other processes or that could contradict what the professional believes and feels.

Steering the Professional

Some lawyers understand that a problem will occur before the expert is argumentative about something. Others will not see the issue until the professional is already engaged in arguing his or
her case which may or may not remain based on facts. The argumentative expert witness generally will require steering during testimony or when writing a report to stay on course with the case and to prevent an argument from distracting from the goals of the situation. This could require the expert learning about other procedures or through communication with the lawyer about how to stay on topic.

Engaging the Testing

The expert witness may argue with or about something because of the materials in the case. However, one way to get this professional back on track with the standard processes in the case is to engage him or her in the testing methods and also to learn how the method provides the results. These results are important in many different claims and cases and often support the argument that the lawyer uses in the courtroom. However, the testing method must provide reliable data for the expert to present the details to the court and not suffer a challenge because the results are not reliable enough.

Extensive Preparation

Some experts are excellent in their chosen field and can provide the details necessary to support and explain the subject matter in the case. However, even if excellent in the field, the professional may still need extensive preparation for the case because he or she does not understand court proceedings or how to work appropriately with the courtroom. In this manner, he or she may become argumentative and prolong the preparation period without the lawyer keeping him or her on track and getting the
expert to proceed through each stage of the prep.

Understanding the Situation

If the lawyer and expert do not agree on something, it is important to understand what the situation is and how certain details apply. This may require a better investigation into the subject or a convincing argument that will keep the expert on track for the case. If the professional remains argumentative about the details, the lawyer may need to stop the argument between the two and think of another way of progressing through the situation. Sometimes, the expert’s argument is valid but needs more information and a way to stay on track with the case, or the process may stall.

The Third Party in the Argument

Another way to get an argumentative expert witness back on the necessary track for the case is to provide him or her with another professional to argue the matter with and learn from to halt the argument itself. A third party in these situations can give a sounding board or a way to defuse the argument to the point that the expert returns to the necessary tasks of the case. This third person can also involve the testing methods or argue against a certain procedure.

The Expert’s Argument

Sometimes, the expert argues about something that is valid and needs to work out the details. However, the professional will need to stay on track with the case, or the procedures can take over and lengthen the case time. With research into the argument, the lawyer and expert witness can find a solution and remedy the argument itself to return to the case and use the previous conflict in a productive way.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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