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Expert Witnesses

Locating and Retaining Effective Expert Witnesses

Effective expert witnesses are often difficult to locate and harder to retain depending on the facts and subject matter of a case, and this could provide a much more complicated situation for the legal team. The lawyer or assistant contacting and interviewing experts in the case or claim will need to know what to ask, where to look and when to seek help.

When the legal team needs to locate an expert witness, the lack of doing so could break the case. It is essential to discover an expert that is able to explain the evidence to the judge or jury properly. Some may look to others for referrals, hire an expert through an agency or use another expert as a point of contact. Sometimes, the expert may become part of the proceedings early and assist throughout the entire case. However, some lawyers do not think to find someone to corroborate or explain the evidence soon enough. It is possible to increase the rate of success through expert testimony.

Expert Opinion Testimony

An expert’s skills, knowledge and experience are critical in progressing through many claims and cases. Without the professional’s opinion testimony, the lawyer may not have enough details or information to progress to the next step. Additionally,
the judge or jury may look more favorably upon the expert witness when he or she has the appropriate demeanor, is able to explain the evidence and has a confident air without becoming arrogant. Having the appropriate vocabulary for the courtroom is another detail often overlooked. The professional’s opinion will have a basis in fact and start from the sufficient data and evidence provided for the case.

Locating the Expert Witness

Before the legal team is able to make a plan of action to tackle the tough and complicated evidence, the members must locate an effective expert witness. This may require research in the subject matter, contacting an agency with that type of expert or communicating with other contacts from previous cases. The easier option generally is to hire an expert through an agency. The company or institution may have a detailed list of who is available. The individual may have certain credentials that match the case, and a simple interview could solve the problem. However, if an agency is not an option, research may provide a number of professionals. Then, it is a matter of interviewing several to find the best match for the subject matter of the case and the legal team.

When a lawyer needs a specific witness that is not available in the city or state, he or she may need to broaden the search. Some professions for special cases may only reside in larger cities. However, the problem may change if the case involves a small-town issue of either a criminal or civil matter where the jury or judge would have a better chance of accepting someone from the local area. Then, the search narrows significantly. At that point, it is then an issue with hiring the person and retaining the expert throughout the trial even in the midst of publicity or complications such as higher chances of a loss or failure through deliberation.

Retaining the Expert

Finding an effective expert witness that provides the key element to the case is important. This professional may provide the crucial addition to help the case. However, retaining the individual as an expert witness is often more difficult. The judge or opposing counsel will attempt to disqualify the professional during an interview, and testimony may become inadmissible if he or she does lose out on participation in the claim. Constant and open communication is key to the working relationship between the legal team and the expert witness. Changes to methods or details may need to relay to the lawyer to prevent complications.

With federal rules applied or state needed regulations, retaining the expert witness may become a complex issue. A criminal case on a federal level places more stringent requirements on the expert, and he or she may become relegated to a consultant to find an expert beyond reproach. Held to a higher standard, the professional may need to stick with only approved methods of testing and processes rather than questionable ones.

The Expert Witness Connection to the Legal Team

Once the right expert is found, the connection between the legal team and the profession should strengthen and remain open. This may ensure a better match so that the expert is able to provide the necessary steps to increasing chances of success.

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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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