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Expert Witnesses in High-Profile Litigation

For an expert witness that will face a high-profile lawsuit, it is important to know what to expect and how this differs from other similar or entirely different litigation cases. There may also exist additional requirements for the lawyer based on the circumstances, the defendant or plaintiff and how the expert will corroborate or help the details of the story.

High-profile cases often include a large amount of publicity, and the expert will generally face either praise or scrutiny by the public when the defendant or plaintiff is someone famous or in the news. Then, the lawyer that hires him or her will need to ensure that he or she is beyond reproach. This demands a close look at credentials and passing the expert through qualifying as a designated expert in the case. This will lead the lawyer and professional to an interview with the judge and opposing counsel. If the expert cannot pass through this stage, then he or she may become an advisor or consultant to find another expert that will work on the case.

The High-Profile Factor

Some high-profile cases involve a sequestering of the jury. Others may require an extensive interview of jurors, discovery processes and a full-scale investigation by law enforcement agencies that precede the case in court. If there is no possibility of negotiating a settlement, then it most often proceeds to the complete trial with jury panel and a judge. The defendant or plaintiff will need sufficient evidence to either lead to success in acquiring compensation or pleading not guilty. Depending on the type of case, the plaintiff or prosecution will have the burden of proving that the defendant took part in the injury or crime, and a profound amount of evidence and proof is necessary to claim he or she is responsible.

Civil Law Cases Evidence

The expert witness attached to a high-profile civil law case will need to ensure that all evidence ha a proper chain of custody. The defendant may question the methods used to obtain DNA, fingerprints and other materials. If the expert uses anything out of the ordinary or does not properly handle evidence as per the type and amount, it could invalidate results and the admissibility of such items. This is important for materials and substances such as blood or skin samples. Any contamination could lead to the items having no part in the case. A good defense lawyer will question the validity and chain of custody of evidence.


The expert will need to maintain the same answers for the questions and details about the case. He or she will provide sufficient information for the plaintiff, but during cross-examination, it is crucial to remain consistent. It is often during the defendant’s legal counsel’s questions that the expert may face a line or questioning that is confusing or complicated in a manner that may trip him or her up. Use of various tactics may invalidate what the expert says and lead to a failure during deliberation. Because the plaintiff is usually seeking compensation for injury, death or some wrong from the defendant, it is critical to maintain and remain in control during cross-examination.

Remaining Objective

Even though an expert witness’ hire for the plaintiff or defendant places him or her in the courtroom, he or she must remain objective throughout the proceedings. By letting bias color testimony or becoming involved in the legal team more than as an expert on the subject matter, it is possible that the professional’s foundation for testimony may sway to one side or the other.

This could lead to disqualification by the judge. No matter how guilty a defendant appears, the expert must maintain a neutral stance to ensure the integrity of testimony and testing methods. However, after performing various processes, it may become clear that the evidence points to a certain conclusion about the defendant’s responsibility in the incident, injury or death.

When involved in a high-profile case, the expert witness may need to communicate certain details to the judge or jury panel. Remaining impartial, he or she may need to clear up confusion that directly points to a certain conclusion that the expert will provide based on evidence and witness statements. Through extensive testing, the scientific data with little error will show that certain details connect the defendant to the scene or the incident. However, sometimes the expert is unable to perform this action and must explain the information with as much clarity as possible.

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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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