At an expert’s deposition, questions are primarily focused on the expert’s qualifications and opinions. But don’t forget to ask these three questions—you may be very pleased with the responses you get.
1. Have you come across anything inconsistent with your opinion?
Have you encountered any fact, article, or other matter—either in material you relied on or otherwise—that is either inconsistent or not fully consistent with each of the opinions you have reached?
Assuming the expert is truthful and candid, this line of questioning should apprise you of any weaknesses in the opposition’s case, some of which may not have occurred to you or your own experts.
In addition, answers to these questions frequently provide good ammunition for impeachment of the expert at trial. For example, if at the deposition the expert acknowledges having read certain conflicting or inconsistent testimony, the expert who claims at trial that he or she has encountered nothing that’s inconsistent with the opinions reached has some explaining to do.
Likewise, you may impeach an expert witness at trial if at the deposition the expert acknowledged having relied on books, articles, studies, or other secondary sources that contain information inconsistent with the expert’s opinion.
2. Are you planning to do other work on this case?
Is there anything further that you are planning to do in the case, such as additional reading, calculations, or experiments?
If the expert says that he or she has nothing further planned or scheduled, be sure to ask whether the expert is contemplating additional work, even though it’s not presently scheduled. If the expert answers “yes” to any of these questions, follow up by asking about the nature of the work.
3. Would you like to do more work on this case?
Assuming an essentially unlimited budget and ample time, would you like to do any additional work to further test, corroborate, or solidify any of the opinions you expressed?
The answer to this question could give you ammunition for trial. You might be able to claim that necessary work wasn’t done, despite the expert’s knowledge of its availability. And it might be something you or your expert has not considered doing.
For more tips for conducting an expert’s deposition turn to CEB’s California Expert Witness Guide, chap 11. And check out CEB’s program Tips for Examining Experts at Deposition & Trial from the Plaintiff, Defendant & Judge Perspectives.
Other CEBblog™ posts on questioning an expert at deposition:
- Techniques Top Attorneys Use When Questioning an Expert
- 5 Areas for Questioning an Expert at Deposition
- Questions to Ask When Deposing an Expert
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