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Properly Preparing an Expert Witness for Trial

Expert witnesses possess varying degrees of knowledge and experience with the court process, and even those that have the necessary skills may need to prepare with the lawyer before the trial begins. By using certain techniques and tips, it is possible to ensure the expert witness has what he or she needs to properly present his or her opinion.

One of the more important tasks that a lawyer and the rest of the legal team has is to ensure that the expert witness has enough time to prepare for the case. He or she should have a mastery of all the facts before the trial starts and sufficient independence for intellectual challenges that the testing and evidence may provide. Preparing the professional through questions and the details of the evidence and his or her opinion are all important, but without enough time before the beginning of the trial, the expert may make mistakes or need to contradict what he or she said previously.

Knowing the Facts of the Case

When the first step in providing enough time is possible, it is then important to accomplish the task of knowing all the facts of the case. Some may need specialized knowledge. Others may require access to evidence or witness statements.
Many experts must test the evidence through various methods to determine and base testimony on an opinion. For certain professionals, it is essential to review guidelines, rules and laws connected to the case details. Knowing about cross-examination, specific knowledge of the claim or case and about the jurors, the professional may improve his or her chances of informing the courtroom about the case details.

Jury Panel Experts

When an expert witness provides testimony in the courtroom, he or she will make connections with the judge or jury panel. By identifying and associating those experts on the jury panel, he or she may ensure that at least one person understands the full implications of the subject matter. For doctors and other medical experts, this could provide a better and clearer knowledge of guidelines, liability and how to work with patients. The relatable material is important to provide a foundation of the opinion that the expert will explain the case or claim.

Avoid Biases with the Jury

Biases may exist with the jury based on the age and experience of the expert. Others may view certain demeanors in a negative or positive manner depending on the jury panel members. By remaining neutral in the courtroom, the expert may accomplish his or her goal in informing of the issue and avoiding bias. It is important that the judge or jury panel does not judge the professional based on his or her mannerisms, personality or demeanor but on what he or she said or testing methods. It is better to focus on the case than the expert’s features. Additionally, avoiding bias is possible if the professional does not incur any stereotypes with witnesses or himself or herself.

The Active Expert

Some preparations exist in the appearance of learning and acquiring new skills. Some jury members place faith in an expert because he or she would talk in a manner that is appealing or similar to the jury, he or she is loud or soft enough and appears friendly. However, the person must remain knowledgeable to provide the judge or jury with the details about the case. If the members of the jury do not understand the case details or evidence, it is generally the expert that will detail the matter fully and remove confusion. Many jury members will view the expert in a favorable manner if he or she is friendly and smiles.

The Most Applicable Communication Methods

To ensure the details of the case are available to the judge or jury in a manner that they understand, the expert may need to review each member and determine which communication method is the most applicable. This could require a change in tone, sound and vocabulary. Many that come from the city may speak too quickly, loudly or in words that the average small-town person does not understand. The reverse is true for city jury members that want a faster speaker, larger vocabulary and a formal tone.

The Expert’s Perspective

It is important to prepare for the trial appropriately. In the courtroom, the professional must remain unbiased and never lose sight of his or her perspective in the case. Some may require more preparation and time than others.

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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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