Before you head to trial, there are a few things that you should know about expert witnesses. The right choice can make or break your case, so it’s important that you do your homework and figure out which individuals will be best-suited for the job. Here are just a few tips for choosing an expert witness.
1. Find Someone Within the Industry
It may sound obvious, but if you need a banking expert, don’t go looking for witnesses in the tax or real estate industry. Not only will you put your trust in someone with limited expertise, but you’ll also run the risk of lessening their authority in the eyes of the jury. Find someone with real skills and a detailed job history in the field that you need.
2. Run a Background Check
Putting an expert witness on the stand is the legal equivalent of endorsing them, so make sure that they can withstand the scrutiny of a background check. Don’t rely on their word to uncover skeletons in their closet. Run the checks yourself. If they have a checkered past that would call their knowledge, work history or personal character into question, they might not want to share it, but opposing counsel will definitely find it and use it to weaken your case.
3. Engage in Trial Runs
Before you put them in front of a jury, put them in front of a video camera. Grade them on both their presentation and articulation. Do they answer questions in a clear, understandable way? Do they fidget or sweat after long hours under the lights? Do they make eye contact when they speak? Now is your chance to correct bad habits before they’re aired live to a jury, so be thorough.
4. Cut Your Losses
Some flaws can be fixed before your big day in court. Others can’t. If your expert witness is a disaster, cut your losses and find someone else while you still can. You don’t want to lose your case because your witness just can’t be shaped into an articulate, respectable presence for the jury.
These are just a few tips for finding, selecting and preparing your next expert witness. Whether you’re filing a personal injury claim or representing a corporate client during a major scandal, these tips should help you choose an expert witness that will solidify your case.