In court cases, real and fictional, that you’ve seen on TV, they always call witnesses. The usual witness is a “lay witness.” That’s either the plaintiff or the defendant, someone who saw an accident or a crime. An expert witness, however, someone whose education or experience makes him an expert on the subject of the case. What should you look for in expert witness services?
When choosing an expert witness, there are certain traits you should always look for, beyond the qualifications of education and experience. The potential effect of the witness on the jury-his or her appearance, comportment, and ability to speak persuasively can all make a difference. The witness’s ability to deal with examination and cross-examination is important. Simulated cross-examination may give clues to the witness’s potential performance in court. At the same time, your expert must be good at critical thinking and be able to alert you to any possible weakness in the case.
Of course, the witness must be available, and he or she must be someone with whom you know you can work effectively. The simulated cross-exam may again be informative. And check the witness’s background; he or she may have written something in the past that may have refuted the very position you’re arguing. Your expert should naturally be comfortable in taking that position.
Experience is one key; reputation is another. Has your expert worked with other attorneys, or with judges that you know? They may have their own opinions about the person you’re calling in to testify.
The right expert witness with the right background can make or break your case. Choose carefully and find the person who will best serve your client’s interests, and help to ensure an outcome in your favor.