Persuasive Expert Witnesses: Tips, Techniques and Best Practices
Stay on Point
- Know the entire case, not just your narrow role.
- Be prepared for the questions from your side.
- How does your story hold up to the TV images, radio spots and news casts?
- Criticize your approach/methodology/opinions.
- Offer a superior approach/methodology/opinions.
Remember your audience is the jury:
– They are not your peers.
– Juries and judges have high expectations (competency).
– You must explain in terms they can understand.
– Would the UPS guy understand and agree with you?
- No Second Chances
- Help Jurors Do Their Work.
- Are there errors in your report.
- Are there contradictions to your methodology.
- Know the legal issues. Speak with your client about the legal issues, and get comfortable with the legal terminology for your case.
- Whether on direct examination or cross-examination, think before you speak. It is almost always better for there to be a short pause before you answer a question than for you to give a bad answer.
- Attitude is everything!
- Help the jury fully understand your methodology without getting yourself or them confused.
- Anticipate the defense/plaintiff attorney’s challenges.
- Be able to explain your opinions to a 3rd grader .
- Break down the Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation and Verification phases of the methodology in understandable terms.
- Use visual aids without getting trapped with them.
- Respond to Opposition without seeming evasive or defensive.
- Assist the jury in understanding your opinions (common sense approach).
- Embrace the jury’s eagerness to learn about what you have to say.
- Develop a level of “trust” with the jury.
- Keep the jury focused on the facts of your testimony without becoming a pawn for either the plaintiff or defense.
- Recognize your individual talents and skills and incorporate them into your testimony.
- Deal with today’s jurors who think they really know about your area of expertise because they watch C.S.I.
- Deal with the questions regarding your rate of compensation.
- Be the very best expert witness you can be for the jury and for yourself.
Pamela W. Carter
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
201 St. Charles Avenue, Suite 3600
New Orleans, Louisiana
Office: (504) 566-5232