Expert Witnesses: Etiquette And Mistakes To Avoid

Expert witnesses have very important responsibilities in their jobs. Entire legal cases can be decided upon their knowledge, experience, and their ability to withstand the pressures of legal procedures.

In most cases, there will be a legal opposition meaning a lawyer trying to disprove their claims and/or get their testimonies thrown out of court. The mistakes made by an expert during a trial or deposition can have detrimental effects on their client’s case. Below are key tips for court etiquette every expert should practice before testifying.

Common Court Etiquette:

Don’t Lecture During a Deposition

Prepare your testimony carefully and avoid giving opinions.  Have facts composed to legitimize your statements. Stick to answering the questions being asked. When answering give direct and precise answers. Lecturing during deposition could create problems for your case, or waste the time of the court.

Be Completely Honest

Expert witnesses need to share all past charges. Hiding negative past experiences could end up causing your case more harm. The prosecution will be looking for inconsistencies from case to case. Answering truthfully is the only way to avoid having expert testimony thrown out.

Don’t Contradict Prior Testimony

Sticking directly to the argument is important. If the witness is found contradicting themselves this will significantly weaken credibility. Check any conclusions you draw are based upon the facts and your interpretation of them. Review what was said during a deposition before testifying in court.

Don’t Argue With The Cross Examiner

Arguing with the cross examiner has the possibility of relieving expert of title and credibility. Abide by facts, if the cross examiner commences an argument with you, allow them to continue. Repeat your interpretation and give your explanation on how the conclusion was reached.

Don’t Lose Your Temper While Testifying

If the witnesses’ temper is lost during court, this will weaken credibility dramatically. Answering with emotion is unprofessional and declines the objective.

Common Expert Witness Mistakes:

Relying Only Upon Information Provided By The Attorney

Not doing their own research could lead the witness to being unprepared. This leaves expert’s testimony open to attack. Fact check the case before going to testify. If a conclusion is based on improper facts/evidence, the entire testimony could be dismissed. Lawyers are not the experts in your field, you are. Be confident in your abilities.

Going Outside Their Area Of Expertise

Once a witness goes out of their expertise it becomes an opinion. This will undermine credibility of the expert and will lead to disastrous results. This could be an opportunity for the opposing party to motion to exclude certain testimony.

Expert Witnesses with Litli Group

We prepare all our expert witnesses for success in their cases. Being an expert witness is hard work, but can be extremely gratifying.

What are your tips for being an expert witness that are not on our list? We encourage you to share your expertise by joining our panel of professional experts and let us find your next court case.