Trial lawyers are writing about and teaching other lawyers how to cross-examine “difficult” expert witnesses.

“Difficult” expert witnesses are identified as experts who may be likeable, persuasive, arrogant, combative, or aggressive.

Attorney Lynn P. Pruitt and Lauren S. Grinder writing in the January 2020 issue For the Defense made these suggestions:

  1. Prepare, prepare, and prepare.
  2. Investigate the expert’s complete background, including college courses, textbooks, prior testimony, and whether the expert was on the debate or drama team.
  3. Identify which of the following personalities the expert has:
    1. Imperious, haughty, and pedantic, or
    2. Genuine, understated, and likeable.
  4. Learn the terms of art in the expert’s field.
  5. Force the expert to define his/her opinions specifically.
  6. Set goals for your cross-examination.
  7. Demonstrate to the jury how the expert is being evasive:

If an expert is evasive, it is important to emphasize this characteristic to the jury. These questions and statements, excerpted from Silent Advocacy, can be helpful:

  • This is one of those simple questions.
  • Then your answer to my question is [yes][no]?
  • Is that another way of saying yes?
  • Does your answer mean yes?
  • Are you having trouble understanding my questions?
  • Didn’t that question call for a “yes” or “no” answer?
  • That does not answer my questions. Let me try again.
  • I appreciate your answer, but that was not my question.
  • I understand all that, but can you answer my question?
  1. Learn as much as you can before you cross-examine the expert witness.