When using an expert witness, his or her expert testimony is crucial to the outcome of the case. In order to have a successful trial, there are some guidelines to follow that will help you present the expert witness, their qualifications, and his or her expert opinions in a manner in which the judge and jury will come to trust the witness. If you need an expert witness, contact APEXpert Witness and read through these steps for a successful trial. While APEXpert Witness is not providing legal advice, it is our opinion that the following steps should ensure that the use of an expert is optimal.
Keep Goals in Mind
Direct examination of your expert witness is to let the jury see that your witness is more of an expert and has more knowledge than the other party’s expert. To prove your case, all of the facts regarding the case, claims, and defenses, needs to be recorded into evidence. Once your expert witness is aware of all of the facts, he or she needs to use language that will relate to the client’s story. Conclusions found by the expert witness based on the story of the client should be related to the jury and the judge as it happened to the client. Credibility for an expert is essential to all parties involved in the case. To show the judge and jury that the witness is credible, talk about his or her qualifications and experience. One thing to keep in mind is that during cross-examination, opposing counsel generally will be allowed a wide leeway in determining if your expert is credible. Choosing an expert that does that not have any baggage and can show integrity will go a long way in allowing the jury to trust the expert.
Use General Questions and Broad Answers
The majority of examinations begin with listing qualifications, then general beliefs and opinions on the subject at issue, then case work done that is relative to the current case, and finally beliefs and opinions regarding the case at hand. Asking leading questions is allowable depending on the jurisdiction, but it is safe to ask more general or hypothetical questions. Phrasing a question using “could this happen” rather than “did this happen” will ensure that no objections will be made. In cross-examination, it is important to phrase answers in broad terms as well.
Qualify Your Expert
While it is important to note the qualifications of the expert witness, such as experience, honors, education, and research the expert has done, however, it has to relate to the specific case. Challenges can occur and the judge will make a decision based on the qualifications put on record. If you believe your witness will not receive any challenges, you can introduce the expert witness on a more personal level.
Present the Expert’s Opinions
There are two main ways for an expert to express an opinion: through hypothetical questions and explaining the basis for his or her expert opinion. Expert witnesses are able to answer hypothetical questions, as opposed to a lay witness. In most cases, an expert is allowed to state an opinion before testifying to the facts or data of the case, but it depends on the jurisdiction. When proving a case to a jury, it is better for an expert to give reasons behind his or her opinion.
A trial’s outcome can be contingent upon an expert witness who is qualified with the specific case details, and also upon that witness’s ability to gain the trust and confidence of the jury. Potentially the most important thing to remember is for the expert witness to communicate to the jury in a way that they will understand. Facts of the case can be confusing, but using language that is easily understood for lay people is important. Along with the previous guidelines and the help of APEXpert Witness, you can be on your way to a successful trial.