Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Expert Witness Best Practices


The best practices that expert witnesses adhere to generally require staying on point in the case, keeping the material relevant and ensuring that all test methods are reliable or give reliable results with a known margin of error. Other best practices usually change based on the case, but many of these are similar throughout the expert’s life in the courts.

Knowing the Case

For expert witnesses that work with either side, they must know the details of the case better than most others to ensure they are able and equipped to do the job appropriately. The evidence requires testing, understanding and better knowledge than the average person. Additionally, the professional must also ensure that the courtroom knows about these details, and without knowing the case fully, the expert cannot bring this information to the judge or jury panel. Presenting testimony and the results from testing also demand a higher standard of comprehension and working through case materials.

Prepare for Questions

One of the primary issues that expert witnesses must deal with in the case is that of objection or challenge. These issues arise when the other lawyer feels that the expert is either not right for the cased or does not have the relevant understanding of case materials. His or her testing methods can also face these challenges. By working with the legal professional, it is possible to prepare for all manner of questions that may arise during the course of the case. This preparation can also ensure the expert witness will know how to answer various types of questions.

Reviewing Processes

Another best practice that goes hand-in-hand with the preparation for questions is to review all processes that will remain relevant to the case and reliable testing methods. By checking over what the expert will perform and accomplish, he or she can also understand what answers will connect to certain questions. This will better assist the professional in answering in a clear and concise way in the courtroom. This may also require criticism of opinions, approaches and methods used along with double checking possible error rates. However, this may increase the reliability of testing results.

Playing to the Jury

While the expert must ensure he or she is understandable, this professional must also act accordingly with the jury panel members. This may lead to dressing a different way, meeting expectations of information and details or dumbing down terms to make them understandable to each person in the courtroom. The average person cannot fully grasp the intricacies of science or methodologies that the expert is part of every day. This may also require rethinking how to explain confusing source materials and evidence testing results. While the judge may comprehend some of the data, the jury will require a comprehensive explanation.

Incorporating Tips

The expert witness that has less difficulty in remaining on the case or as a designated expert witness for the court proceedings uses various tips to work with the legal team and to prepare for the other legal team’s questions and objections. These can include keeping all information as understandable as possible and remove confusion before it even starts and removing errors in reports. Contradictions in methods should not occur. Legal issues with processes, checking the evidence and speaking to the client should alleviate through working with the lawyer. The expert should think before speaking anything and work through what he or she says by pausing to quickly think out how to avoid problems.

Anticipation with the Processes

The professional will need to anticipate everything that could go wrong. He or she may need to review testimony and testing results multiple times before presenting them in the courtroom. It is important to anticipate possible objections to materials and how to best remove the objection from validity. Explaining opinions may require removing certain jargon and complex wording. Breaking down the analysis early can help the expert anticipate confusion and misunderstandings. He or she may need to compare something the average person is able to grasp easily.

The Expert Using Best Practices

By using tips, understanding how best to proceed and anticipating problems, the professional can present a valid case that is free from confusion. The professional may also need to use visual aids, respond to opposing views with a details explanation and remain clear of evasive or defensive answers. By accomplishing the best practices in effect, the expert witness can gain the trust of the jury panel or judge. This trust can increase the effectiveness of the professional.


Provided by HG.org

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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