Preparing an expert witness for your North Carolina deposition requires the litigator to make sure the witness is ready. Tension and stakes are high when a witness is testifying; this goes for expert and non-expert witnesses.
The litigator will work with an expert witness and share with him or her the nuances of the case. This is important so the witness can prepare for potential questions that may be thrown at him and so he can answer questions in a manner that highlights his expertise without drawing his credibility into question. A nervous witness may be one in whom the jury and counsel may become wary of and not trust his testimony. For these reasons, preparation is key.
Tips for Preparing an Expert Witness
When the need arises to call in an expert, it’s because:
- You need to explain a complex topic
- You need to present unbiased evidence
- You need to poke holes in the opposition’s argument
Set up an interview. Choose more than one potential expert witness and schedule an interview. You need to know how they will respond to questioning, pressure and how they comport themselves.
Here are a few questions to ask your expert witness:
- Have you ever served as an expert witness?
- How many times?
- What are your qualifications as an expert in this field?
- Have you ever been disqualified as an expert witness?
- What cases have you served on?
- Do you have any professional sanctions?
- Has your expert testimony ever been called into question?
You will need to do your own research prior to meeting the potential expert witnesses. Asking other attorneys whom they have called upon as an expert witness is also a way to vet a potential expert.
Don’t let there be any surprises when you call your expert witness onto the stand. The way to assure they won’t happen is for you to have done your due diligence.
Don’t let an expert witness’s lack of experience in the courtroom negate her from serving. If her education, experience, and work are above reproach you can mentor her through the process.
If you’re working with a new expert witness, you will want to remind him or her:
- Don’t elaborate. Answer only the question asked. Yes, and no, are acceptable answers
- Don’t answer until the complete question has been asked
- Don’t be afraid to have the question repeated if you’re not clear what is being asked.
Let your expert witness know it’s acceptable to ask to take a break when needed.
Work with the expert witness until you’re comfortable with him or her and until he or she feels prepared.
Rushing an expert witness to the stand is a sure way to hurt your client’s case and damage the expert witness’ credibility – as well as your own.
When preparing the witness, share your strategy and theory of the case and present what you believe is the opposing counsel’s strategy and theory of the case. If you’re working with an expert witness who is inexperienced you may want to set up a mock deposition and have your legal team ask the tough questions. Record the deposition and work with the expert witness by replaying the mock deposition until you both feel ready for the courtroom.
Don’t walk into your courtroom proceeding unprepared. Call our office and request one of our experienced court reporters for your next case.