You have an expert witness set to testify on your client’s behalf. Never undermine the impact your expert’s testimony can have on your case. Don’t let him or her bore the jury—present your expert in the most positive and effective light possible.
- Start with some bragging. It may not be appreciated in a social setting, but your expert should start by talking about him or herself, listing his or her educational degrees, professional successes and accolades, etc. Because you can’t lead your own witness on direct examination, you’ll need to plan this out in advance with your witness. Plan to ask questions to get him or her off and running on a brag-fest!
- Then move on to analysis and foundation. After the expert has established his or her impressive qualifications, ask questions that will give the expert a chance to explain his or her analysis and lay the foundation for the conclusions drawn.
- Show, not just tell. Given his or her expertise—especially when it comes to technical issues—the jury will be looking to the expert to help them make the decision in the case. But technical analysis and explanation can get very boring for a layperson. Your expert can perk things up by putting together an interesting demonstration. Demonstrative evidence can be key to both helping the jury understand the expert’s analysis and keeping the jury engaged in the testimony. Make sure to advise the court and get advance approval for scientific demonstration your expert has planned.
- Get to the conclusion asap. When you introduce your expert, establish the expert’s credentials just enough and then get to the expert’s conclusion (e.g., What degree to you have? Did I hire you? What did I hire you to do? Have you reached a conclusion? What is your conclusion?). By getting the expert’s conclusion out there as soon as possible, the jury is more likely to remember it. Once it’s out, you can then go into how many papers the expert has written, how many times he or she has been an expert witness, etc. But before you try this technique, make sure to clear it with the judge.
This practical advice comes from CEB’s CLE program Courtroom Conduct: Do’s and Don’ts & Common Sense, available On Demand. Also check out CEB’s program Preparing and Examining Expert Witnesses: Reports, Depositions, and Cross-Examination. And for everything you need to know about using expert witnesses, turn to CEB’s California Expert Witness Guide.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 5 Steps to Preparing an Expert Witness to Do Battle
- Getting Your Expert Ready to Testify
- Are Two (or More) Experts Better Than One?
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