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Examination Tips for Expert Witnesses

There are numerous tips that an expert witness may use to help with examinations, and many of them revolve around the questions and how to answer best with cross-examination. Understanding the question given is crucial to giving the answer that best defines the information and removes confusion from the courtroom.

Think about the Answer

Before an expert witness may give answers during an examination, he or she must think about the answers. This may require time, or the expert may need to think back on prepared statements for such questions. Usually, the professional will work with the lawyer to prepare for any number of questions. The individual may need to give clear and concise answers. Some may require time to form an answer that does not contradict testimony or give an answer that does not match what the expert wants to say. Accuracy with answers to inquiries during an examination is crucial.

Accepting Statements

The expert witness of a case may need to refute certain statements that another witness or the lawyer states during the examination. This may require an explanation, a detailing of an incident or backing up an answer or refuting the statement
through facts. The opposing lawyer may use the same tactic when asking questions during the examination stage to confuse or exclude an expert witness. Some statements require clarification such as when the lawyer asks about a problem, an issue or the incident. These could mean anything, and the expert must focus the statement on a specific matter.

Avoid Figuring out the Question Behind the Question

It is important for an expert witness to avoid thinking about the question asked too much. The lawyer will want certain information during the examination period, and only he or she will know what that is. Answering the question to the best of the ability of the lawyer is often the only way to prevent exclusion, disqualification or inadmissible evidence. By showing that the testing methods are valid and have reliable data with conclusive results, the professional may have a better chance of remaining on the case. With relevance to the subject material, he or she may help the lawyer that hired him or her.

The True Focus on the Question

The expert should devote his or her attention and energy on answering the question clearly and completely. There should remain no doubt that the professional understands the field of study. A clear and concise answer may also remove confusion which may also, in turn, help the lawyer understand the subject material better. This is important, so the results and information given about the case are available and received without conflict. The opposing lawyer and judge may need time to comprehend the data further and better. With the focus on answering and completely giving the necessary information, the expert has a greater chance of informing the courtroom.

The I Don’t Know Rule

If the expert is unaware of the answer, it is perfectly within his or her purview to say I don’t know. While when concerning the field of study and how to produce results from testing methods, this is not a valid answer, he or she could give this answer if the question is not within the scope of the field or if the subject material requires additional research for specific matters. The professional should not feel pressured to know all the answers no matter how much the opposing legal counsel appears to put on the pressure. Some answers require a no.

Documentation Analysis

Before answering questions about paperwork, documents and certain files, the professional should analyze them first. It is critical to fully know and become aware of the details contained within various papers and documents before giving any answers about the information submitted. Just because the expert uses the document in his or her field of study does not mean that the professional should not assess what is given in the courtroom. Some files have different details while others expose facts that may counter what the expert specified previously.

The Lack of Argument

The opposing legal counsel during an examination may attempt to insight an argument from the expert. It is important that the assessment and examination has a lack of argument. This may prove that the professional does know his or her field of study and is aware of how to proceed correctly. This lack of argument may also show the court that the professional belongs in the case and is reliable and relevant.

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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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