What Expert Witnesses Should Know to Minimize the Threats during Cross-Examination Testimony

in Examination

Cross examination by the opposing counsel is the most dangerous time during your testimony. This is when you will feel the most pressure, because you know that the opposing lawyer may challenge your credentials, will try to undermine your opinions, will explore whether you have made any conflicting statements, and will make various efforts to cause you to lose your composure. The attorney may smile but his goal is to destroy your credibility with the jury, the judge, the arbitrator or mediator, and everyone else within earshot.
You have control over many things before trial that will lessen your vulnerability to cross examination. Your CV should accurately reflect everything you have done in your life, and you should be comfortable and familiar with everything in that CV. Only take on cases that are within your sphere of expertise. Any time you venture an opinion or comment about something beyond your strengths, you risk credibility with the jury. attorneys know how to latch on to misstatements, poorly chosen words, and especially statements that go beyond your documented skills, expertise, and knowledge.
When you reach the stage of cross examination in a trial, you have already gone through direct examination. You and your lawyer have had a chance to present the entirety of your work efforts. Your investigations, tests, and analyses should have been thorough and methodical. If you present those facts well during direct examination, you will establish a much more difficult starting position for the opposing lawyer during cross examination.
What you do know, you should answer confidently. What you do not know, admit readily. Your responses need to be clear and concise, direct and precise, objective and fair. If you agree with a question, feel no cost to say so. If you disagree with a cross-examiner's statement, you can also say so, but you should prepare to explain fully the reasons for your disagreement. Between those extremes of agreement and disagreement, you should prepare to qualify any question that attempts to slant the truth toward the other side.

Author Box
Judd Robbins has 1 articles online

Judd Robbins has been an internationally recognized expert witness since 1986 in the US and in the UK. In 2010, his book "Expert Witness Training" was published by Presentation Dynamics. Robbins has advanced degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan, has been an Information Systems manager and an Education Systems manager, and consults in both computer and legal issues. Learn more about Mr. Robbins and his Expert Witness Training materials at www.juddrobbins.com

Add New Comment

What Expert Witnesses Should Know to Minimize the Threats during Cross-Examination Testimony

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2010/11/10