When a trial is complex and needs clarification about scientific or technical details, lawyers tend to call in expert witnesses to explain these complex matters to a jury. The right expert witness testimony can win a trial and the wrong one can lead a jury down a road of confusion that potentially causes a ruling against the party the testimony was trying to help. Understanding what makes up a good expert witness before selection can pay huge dividends later on.
Things To Consider During Selection
Certain factors in witness selection are true of all experts, while others tend to be more case-specific. Some standard factors to think about would be like does this person have the proper skills and knowledge relevant to the case. The expert’s education should be called into question along with any distinctive credentials like the proper licensing or board certifications. Other important factors of the witness’s background would involve their professional training and practice, plus how much testifying experience they have had in the past.
After determining if the expert witness is qualified, next comes judging if they are the right fit for the trial. The witness may have the experience necessary to testify but are they able to convey that experience in the court of law. Not all teachers can teach, and not all experts can testify. A lawyer must make sure that this expert has the communication skills to relate to the jury and that their presentation style matches the way the case will be presented.
Lastly, make sure the witness knows how the trial will be played out and that they know their role during the deposition, discovery, and cross examination. Also, if it is a case involving corporations, make sure the witness does not work for a rival organization which would result in a conflict of interest during the trial.
Exercise Due Diligence
It is a lawyer’s responsibility to conduct the proper due diligence when selecting a witness. Check through a witness’s web pages and social media accounts. See if there are any negative aspects or opinions in the expert’s life that can have a bias on their testimony. Spending some time doing the necessary footwork to find out if a witness fits the case will play a significant factor as the trial reaches it conclusion. Having a case lost do to not researching the witness is a costly mistake for the lawyer and the client.