By Steven Babitsky, Esq.
Attorneys use many techniques and strategies to effectively cross-examine opposing expert witnesses. Dallas Attorney and trucking expert Mike H. Bassett, in his December 2019 article in For the Defense, explains the steps as follows:
- Establish control early. Let the expert know that you know the case better than anybody in the courtroom.
- Let the expert know that you have his or her number. Ask questions such as, “I have read forty-six of your prior depositions, and isn’t it true that ?” Or, “I will be asking you questions where I will use your actual testimony from forty-six other cases for which you have testified.” And be ready to point to the page and line if the expert tests you—because he or she will.
- Ask only leading questions.
- Granulate your questions down so that they focus on One. Fact. At. A. Time.
- Remember that you are the one testifying. The expert is simply agreeing with you.
- You want the jury watching and listening to you.
- Done well, the expert witness will simply be affirming your “testimony.”
- Use transition words and phrases to allow the jury to follow you. “My first area of questioning for you Mr. Smith, will focus on your work as a plaintiffs safety expert for the last twenty-eight years.” Or, “I want to leave this area and move on to my second area of questioning and that is the assumptions and foundations of your report.”
- Start strong. Take your lumps in the middle of the cross-examination. And end even stronger.
For additional information, see: Cross-Exanimation of the Plaintiff’s Trucking Safety Expert: Eight Steps to Neutralize One of Your Biggest Threats; For the Defense; December 2019; Pages 67-70.