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Objections Raised by Opposing Counsel against Expert Witnesses

When an expert witness becomes part of the legal proceedings in a courtroom, there are certain objections to his or her testimony, testing methods or results and any relevance he or she has within the case with the subject matter. Voicing these objections is critical for the opposing legal team to ensure a fair and reasonable criminal or civil case.

The Types of Objections

There are many types of objections that the legal team may raise against the expert witness. However, these usually involve the scientific material, technical specifics or the general or specialized knowledge that the expert will present during testimony. This could even include reports given before the expert becomes a designated expert witness for the case. During his or her initial interview, the opposing lawyer may raise objections for unreliable data in testing results or a lack of relevance to the subject matter of the case. Some objections are invalid because of the opinion of the expert witness, and the lawyer must understand the difference.

Disqualification from Objections

If the opposing legal team raises the proper objection or one that exposes a conflict of interest or something similar such as a successful
Daubert challenge, the expert witness may face disqualification. This leads to his or her testimony removed as inadmissible, and the professional has no ability to explain anything further to the courtroom. While the lawyer may still use him or her as a consultant, the expert is unable to provide further assistance with the case, explain material to the judge or jury or remove confusion about the subject materials. This would then pass on to the next expert witness hired for the case.

Objection to the Testimony

One of the important objections that the opposing lawyer will have with the expert witness is that of testimony. The relevance to the subject matter is essential. If the testimony encompasses other matters, is too broad in scope or does not explain the material, the lawyer may object. These objects may also arise through a Daubert challenge that requires the professional to prove that his or her relevance to the case exists. When the testimony does not support this, the expert may need to provide additional details or why the information supplied does not appear in line with the subject matter.

Objection to the Testing Results

Testing methods usually must remain those that provide reliable results. Most expert witnesses must use processes that others have already proven or that peers approve of based on the error rate and dependability with results. If the opposing lawyer understands the testing method enough, he or she may have an objection to the process due to a lack of reliable error rates or results from multiple tests. This skews the data and leads to unreliable facts that the expert will base his or her opinion on. Some of these may include tests with known problems such as fingerprint analysis and hair follicle assessment.

Objections to the Expert

There are numerous types of experts, and some cases have some individuals that are not scientific experts in a field of study. Some objections arise when the person is not a professional of the subject matter but is able to testify through opinions about the relevant issues within a lawsuit. Others give advice outside of the courtroom and may not pose a risk of objections. If the professional does testify about the information within the case, he or she may encounter objections due to a lack of relevance to the field of study. Some do not possess the necessary professional appearance or manners and cannot testify with confidence.

Objections with the Report

For the criminal cases and few civil cases that require a report, the opposing lawyer may object to testing methods, opinions, the facts and results to testing based on what is in the report. If the expert writes with inconsistencies or contradicts the results with evidence, he or she may encounter an objection to admissible testimony. Other objections may arise through a lack of foundation for opinions. This is when the facts of the case do not connect to what the expert thinks or explains.

Disqualification of the Expert

If the opposing lawyer is able to successfully object to or follow through with a challenge to the expert, he or she may cause a disqualification of the professional. This removal of the expert is often the outcome when the legal team is not prepared sufficiently to counter the objection or challenge.

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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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