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When to Share an Exposing Expert Witness’ Report

The expert witness report often must provide details about the revealing nature of the case and is part of the Federal Rules of discovery, civil procedure or criminal procedure. The legal team must share this information at certain times based on the type of case, and the mandatory disclosure of the report is necessary for both legal sides and arguments

Federal Rules of Evidence

No matter if the expert witness report is for a federal or state case, there are certain rules that govern the requirements in the report. The expert must provide opinions that have a foundation in fact and fact-based relevance. The report should include the factual details, evidence and relevant opinions connected to these materials. Generally, the report is given over to the judge and lawyers before the trail starts so that it can have use to present evidence and support a legal argument before the process proceeds any further. Sometimes, the report requires revision.

Reviewing the Report Before Trial

Generally, the professional hired for the case will review all materials long before the trial start date. He or she will then create the report with all relevant details and provide this document to every involved
professional. This can include the other expert witness that can then review the report before the trial is set to start. Shared reports can expose certain details about the evidence and how the opinions can lead the courtroom authorities into a certain way of thinking. It is possible to help the lawyer convince the judge or jury to believe in the legal argument when the report backs it up.

Bias with the Report

Before the expert provides the report to the other side to disclose certain details, he or she should account for possible bias. The report should not retain anything other than the facts, data and opinions that have a foundation on the facts of the case. The other information in the report should reflect the case and individuals related to the case. Before disclosing a possible exposition that could provide the legal authorities with something to go after, the expert should check the report over with an independent examiner of the evidence and the report itself.

Consideration of Bias

The report could contain confirmation bias where the details include what the person expects rather than what the results
explain. Confirmation bias could also occur through reading results in a biased manner which could lead to the lawyer’s argument. Sometimes, this can lead to matching fingerprints, tire marks or other visual evidence with that of the other party in criminal investigations and against the defending party in civil litigation. Without an extra professional looking at the details, it is possible that an exposing report could contain confirmation bias which misrepresents the facts.

The Study and the Report

When an exposing report will provide one legal team with an advantage because of the details contained within it, it is important to ensure that the study behind the evidence and opinions is valid and without reproach. The study of materials in the case often relies on testing methods that are specific to the process necessary to garner the results. Certain substances demand different procedures while physical evidence may require examination through microscopes. A theory is then the next step, and the expert will determine an outcome based on all proven testing methods.

Through the study into the materials and evidence, the expert witness can remove confirmation and other types of bias. However, he or she may still need an objective third party to review the report. The sharing of this report is generally something the legal team does before the trial starts to provide the opposing legal professional the time to study it and to form an argument against it or to confirm the facts.

If there is an opposing expert witness, this time is then spent reviewing all materials and sometimes even performing the same study and testing methods to validate the results. An error rate and reliance on reliable results can help or hurt the expert along with when he or she shares the report with the other side.

The Expert’s Report

Generally, the expert will create a report when it is necessary for the case. This report is normally available to the lawyer that hired the expert witness and the judge. Often, the report is also available before the trial to the other lawyer to review the information and to determine how to argue against it or confirm the contents as valid.

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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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