Taking the deposition of an opponent’s disclosed expert entails more and different preparation than when you’re deposing a lay witness. Here are 5 things to do when prepping for an expert’s deposition.
- Know their disclosure document. Review the scope of testimony described in the expert witness disclosure and focus your preparation on that area of the case.
- Check on qualifications. Determine whether the expert seems qualified to testify in the designated area. If opposing counsel has attached the expert’s curriculum vitae (CV) to the expert witness disclosure, this is a good source for making this determination.
- Compile a dossier. Find and review any pertinent articles written by or about the expert, as well as any other deposition testimony that the expert has given. A CV usually lists all of the expert’s publications. And don’t forget to Google the expert for more information.
- Confer with other attorneys who have insight into the expert. Run a jury verdict search to find other cases in which the expert has testified at trial, then contact the attorneys involved in these other cases for their insights about the expert, and if possible, the transcripts of the expert’s prior depositions.
- Get your own expert to consult. Use a “consulting expert” to get recommendations about helpful areas of inquiry and maybe insight into the opponent’s expert. Opposing experts often know each other and can offer you information about the potential deponent’s views that you may not find elsewhere.
Note that just because you find that the expert seems unqualified doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the deposition. You can use the opportunity to question the expert about education, credentials, and experience and to find out what the expert knows. Then, using the expert’s deposition as supporting evidence, launch an attack at trial on the expert’s qualifications to testify on a particular subject by submitting an in limine motion to the trial judge or engaging in voir dire of the individual.
For everything you need to know about taking and defending depositions of all types of witnesses, turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice. For specific advice on deposing expert witnesses in a civil case, check out CEB’s California Expert Witness Guide, chapter 11.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- What Makes an Expert an Expert?
- 5 Rules to Minimize Expert Contamination
- Checklist for When You’re Late for the Important Expert Witness Disclosure Date
- Eeny, Meeny…Who Should I Depose?
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