Juries usually base their verdicts on a small number of crucial points. But lawyers tend to offer as much evidence as possible, believing this will make their case more convincing or fearing they’ll leave something out. Finding the fine line between making sure the point isn’t lost and losing the point by insulting jurors with repetition requires thought and preparation. Here are six methods for streamlining the evidence in your next trial.
Despite the political rhetoric, public confidence in scientists has “remained stable for decades.” You can bring this confidence into the courtroom through expert testimony based on the scientific method, i.e., physical observation and testing, not just untested hypotheses. Experts should be “hands on” when it comes to collecting and investigating physical evidence.
Whenever you have retained an expert witness to testify in your case—whether in deposition or at trial—you need to prepare yourself and the expert. Don’t just sit back and assume that the expert, who many have testified many times before, has it all worked out. You need to be up to speed on his or her testimony and to make sure the expert has enough information to be effective.
Before your friendly witness is called to the stand, you should go over some general guidelines with him or her. This is particularly true of inexperienced witnesses, but it can’t hurt to review these admonitions even with someone who’s very experienced in giving trial testimony. You also might want to give them a hard copy to look over just before testifying.
Few attorneys have the time or budget to do detailed preparation for cross-examination of every witness. And even if the budget makes it possible, time spent on other aspects of trial preparation will force counsel to take shortcuts. When time is short, these 12 tasks are the bare minimum necessary for cross-examination preparation.