In trials that require an expert witness, the witness is often crucial to the success of the trial. Giving expert testimony and opinions on the facts of the case can sway the jury one way or the other. The judge and the jury need to trust and rely on the opinions of the expert or the outcome may not be successful. On the other hand, if the opposing side has an expert witness as well, it is important to try to disprove or otherwise disqualify or show the judge and jury that the other witness is not reliable. It is beneficial for you to be aware of the ways to disprove an expert witness, and knowing common objections, you can better prepare your expert witness for testimony. Objections to testimony during the deposition phase and the trial phase can ensure that the testimony given is accurate. While we are not providing legal advice, it is our opinion that when you are preparing your expert witness for a deposition or trial, keep these objections in mind so your witness is able to respond.
Common Objections During Deposition
Objection #1 – Testimony Outside of Witness’ Expertise
When asking a question that is outside the range of the witness’ expertise, it generally is not allowed. In the case of a medical malpractice case involving a device that is not working properly, the medical expert may not be familiar with that specific device but is familiar with similar devices from other manufacturers. Asking the expert about the device may be outside the scope of the witness’ knowledge.
Objection #2 – Confidential Information
This is especially important in medical trials. You can request a protective order for parts of the expert’s testimony when the testimony would disclose information that would embarrass, oppress, or cause an extreme burden to the persons involved. Requiring a trade secret or confidential information to be revealed can be an objectionable question. However, the medical expert may answer the question when the persons involved leave the room.
Objection #3 – Answers Were Already Given at Previous Deposition
A typical objection to a question is that it has already been asked and answered. When testimony has already been given, and the question is being asked for other purposes besides clarifying the earlier statements given, it can be objected. Reasons for asking a question again could be to harass or embarrass the witness.
Objection #4 – Mischaracterization of Previous Testimony
In medical cases, facts of the case can oftentimes be very detailed with medical, scientific, or technical data and conclusions. When misunderstandings or mischaracterizations arise, it is important to clarify as soon as possible so that the record does not show incorrect or inaccurate testimony.
Objection #5 – Leading or Coaching
Generally, opposing counsel may not ask questions that lead or coach the witness’ answer. The expert is required to testify to factual matters, and questions should not be presented that suggest an answer.
Objection #6 – Objection to Form
A common objection during depositions is the objection to form objections of the question when the question is not phrased correctly or is misleading or confusing. Typically, several questions will be asked in mass, not giving the witness the opportunity to answer each question fully. An objection to form can be raised if the question is prejudicial or misleading, ambiguous, argumentative, speculative, or confusing.
Though we are not providing legal advice, the above objections are those that we understand and encounter and are typically given. Your case and deposition will differ and only a skilled (and licensed) legal professional can advise you on all the legal nuances. Similarly, if you are looking for an expert witness, contact APEXpert Witness.