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Qualifying an Expert Witness During Voir Dire

When an expert witness is necessary for a case, he or she is usually qualified by experience in a specific field of study or research, knowledge of the subject matter and how well he or she is able to explain the details to the average person. This individual has the capacity to draw conclusions about an incident or issue from skill, experience, observation and the evidence provided.

The person hired for the suit must have the strongest qualifications needed when a case is initiated. The vetting process may include other factors, or someone may be contacted originally that becomes unnecessary after the details of the issue are analyzed.

Reliable, credible and honest testimony are essential in qualified expert witnesses when placed before a jury or judge so that all facts are understandable. However, before these examinations are possible to assist the case, the professional must pass the first stage of the legal world, the voir dire. This is when testimony of the expert witness verified his or her qualifications on the subject involved. The cross-examination of opposing counsel in the voir dire process is an attempt at discrediting this hired person and exclude the possibility of using his or her testimony. A failure of qualifying
the expert may cause a case to be unsuccessful. This means that the subject matter must be within the realm of what the expert witness understands and is fully prepared to explain in detail.

Voir Dire Explained

The stage of voir dire usually transpires during a trial, but this is not always possible. Counsel questions the expert witness at the beginning of examination about his or her education, work experiences in the field, all acquired training and related factors that assist in strengthening the credibility of this professional. Once the initial stage has ended, the opposing lawyer may take the opportunity to interview the expert individual with similar or entirely unrelated questions. After all these inquiries have completed, the court finds for or against the witness as qualified in the field or disqualified for the case. Then the other processes may continue.

Voir Dire may be a pre-trial stage where lawyers, evidence, the judge and similar matters are discussed, analyzed and determined relevant to the case. The judge decides if the expert witness is qualified and may provide testimony for the lawyer that hired him or her. This is accomplished by the questions asked to both ensure credibility as well as refuting it through carefully structured inquiries based on the subject matter and the experience and knowledge of the professional. Even though the testimony he or she may explain in the courtroom could be probed in these proceedings, it is not fully analyzed until after the expert has been qualified for the case.

Pertinent Questions for an Expert Witness

There are many questions that could be asked of an expert witness. For a successful completion of this stage in legal matters, the inquiries should be based on the knowledge and expertise of the professional. This assists in establishing his or her skill, practice and education with theory and practical understanding. This means that the questions asked of the person must be about the subject matter so that it may be recognized that he or she is fully competent. Work information and experience may be discussed. How certain situations arise and why may be relevant to the case. The work history of this individual is usually thoroughly analyzed with all instances of career alterations scrutinized by opposing counsel.

The basics about the occupation should be understood before delving deeper into the qualifications the professional possesses. Certifications, specialties and degrees are often expanded upon when discussing the person. The specific duties that must be performed, responsibilities in positions held by the witness and experience in teaching or training others is often a qualifying matter. Other situations that are handled by the expert are usually both relevant and important in knowing how these apply to the current case. This may qualify him or her through similar or exact details of the incident involved. Other inquiries may include testing and experimentation into and about the subject, analysis of the topic and how it assisted in concluding the concern and how specialties have expanded the work experience he or she has had in the past and currently.

Hiring and Expert Witness

With the possibility that opposing counsel may discredit the professional, the lawyer that hires the expert witness should ensure the individual is fully qualified and able to withstand cross-examination during a stressful situation.

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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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