A good expert witness can make the case for the prosecution or the defence. Expert witnesses provide a level of credibility to the case. However, if expert witness testimony is not delivered in the proper way, it can also weaken the testimony or undermine the case. Thankfully, skilled expert witnesses understand how to avoid the traps that can hamper their ability to lend credibility to their client’s case. Careful preparation on the part of the lawyer and the expert witness is key to having a positive outcome in court.
One of the biggest challenges that an expert witness must overcome is appearing to be the hired gun of the prosecution or the defence. The jury may have a hard time believing an expert witness if they feel that the expert witness is simply giving testimony that is slanted to add credence to the case of the individual who is paying them money. A good litigation support specialist understands that the best way for them to combat the negative perception of them being a hired gun is for them to feel comfortable to disagree with the attorney who hired them.
An expert witness should not look like they are simply put on the stand to answer questions and agree with the lawyer. From time to time, they should feel free to disagree with the lawyer. If an expert witness does not know the answer to a question that is being posed, they should feel free to honestly say that they do not know the answer or that they do not currently have a sufficient amount of information that would allow them to answer the question accurately.
A technique that the opposing lawyer may use to minimise the credibility of an expert witness is to ask the expert witness how much money they are earning to testify. The lawyer who hired the expert witness can preempt this by including this information when they introduce the court to the expert witness. Understandably, careful planning and preparation are needed in order to get the maximum benefit from using an expert witness in court.