Establishing yourself as a legal expert in your area of expertise can be one of the most effective ways to market your law practice. Journalists and reporters frequently seek out experts to provide information, analysis and quotations to use in their articles.
Whether it’s divorce, child custody or the division of marital assets, there are many complex issues that can only be addressed by an experienced legal professional.
What is an Expert Witness?
The role of an expert witness is to provide professional insight into a case-related topic. They can help clear up any ambiguity that may be preventing a case from moving forward and can contribute to a more resolute case outcome. Expert witnesses are able to help break down complex, technical topics into easy-to-understand, layman terms and can offer an impartial opinion that is based solely on their expertise and knowledge of the facts in the case.
Experts are able to bring clarity and resoluteness to a courtroom by providing a thorough, objective analysis of the evidence that supports the claims of each party. They can offer a different perspective on the case that allows the judge and jury to see the case from a new light. This can often save time and money, as the expert’s expertise can resolve any contested issues that would otherwise prolong the trial process.
There are several types of experts that can be called to testify in a trial. These include forensic scientists, engineers, occupational health and safety professionals, actuaries, and a variety of other specialized consultants. Each type of expert has their own specialized knowledge and training that they can use to provide a more in-depth understanding of the topic at hand.
Each expert must be qualified on the subject of their testimony, and they should also be able to demonstrate that their methods are reliable in order for them to be deemed admissible to the court. The court will usually rule on the admissibility of an expert’s testimony at a pre-trial hearing.
If the expert is unable to meet these requirements, they should be excluded from the trial. For example, a physician who is not currently engaged in the clinical practice of emergency medicine cannot serve as an expert witness in a medical malpractice suit. However, a physician who has been in the clinical practice of emergency medicine for three years prior to the occurrence that gave rise to the lawsuit may be allowed to serve as an expert witness.
The expert must be able to explain the relevance of their conclusions and the impact that they will have on the proceedings in the case. They must also ensure that their opinions are unbiased and not influenced by the fact that they were hired by either side of the case. This is known as “vouching” and must be carefully scrutinized. For instance, a physician who has treated the victim of the crime can not testify that the victim’s credibility is a result of their contact with the expert, as this could create an unfair perspective for the jury.
How Can an Expert Witness Help Me?
An expert witness can add value to your case by helping you determine the strength of your evidence. He or she can also help you find a stronger case strategy, and provide helpful insight on how to prepare for trial. However, an expert witness can not give you legal advice or act as a negotiator on your behalf. It is up to your lawyer to make decisions on how to proceed with the case based on the expert witness’ opinion.
When selecting an expert, it is important to choose someone who can communicate clearly and concisely in a non-technical way. The best way to test this is by asking the potential expert how they would explain a topic in their wheelhouse in a time-banded interval, preferably to someone who is not familiar with that subject matter.
It is also helpful to choose an expert who is independent of your attorney. This will ensure that their opinions are unbiased and not driven by emotional factors or outside forces. Additionally, an independent expert will be able to review your case objectively and identify areas of weakness in the State’s evidence.
The final thing to look for is an expert who is open to feedback and willing to incorporate constructive suggestions to improve their performance. Ask the potential expert how they handle this type of feedback and for examples of how it has improved their work.
In addition to being a good communicator, an expert should be willing and able to travel and meet with clients for depositions or trial testimony. This could require a significant amount of time and effort for the expert, so it is important to have a conversation with the potential expert about how much this will cost before hiring them.
It is also a good idea to choose an expert who is familiar with the court rules and requirements that apply to experts in your jurisdiction. The attorney who is handling your case will be able to help you navigate these rules, and they may even have a list of potential experts that they have worked with in the past. This will help you avoid any surprises down the road when it comes to billing.
What Is an Expert Witness Report?
A written expert witness report should include a summary of the expert’s opinion. This can be used to assist the judge and jury at trial, but it can also be used in lieu of expert witnesses who are unable to attend court to give evidence. The expert’s report must comply with the requirements of CrimPR 19.3(3) and 19.4(5), and it must be accompanied by a statement containing the same declaration of truth as a witness statement (CrimPR 19(6)).
The costs of preparing an expert witness report are usually met by the police. However, in some cases, it may be appropriate for the CPS to meet an expert’s preparation fees, particularly where the report is being prepared for evidential rather than fitness purposes. The CPS should discuss the preparation costs of a report with the FSP/other organisation before the conference is arranged, in order to avoid any surprises as to who will meet the fees.
In deciding whether to call an expert for a case the CPS prosecuting lawyers will consider any information that might cast doubt on the credibility of an expert’s opinion, including lack of validation studies, published scientific opinion and peer review of the experts methods. They will also consider whether the expert has complied with the Quality Standards that are published by their regulator and if they have ever been the subject of adverse judicial comment or disciplinary proceedings.
If an expert’s opinion is needed for a particular case, the prosecuting lawyer will contact them by telephone to ensure that they are able to undertake the work and/or attend court and agree on the level of fees to be paid in accordance with the Expert Witness Sales of Guidance. Approval must be obtained from an individual with the appropriate level of financial delegation for fees which exceed those detailed in the guidance.
Once the expert has been instructed, a letter of instruction should be sent to them together with the Expert Witness Fee Form and the Expert Witness Self-Certificate. A copy of the Expert Witness Disclosure Guidelines should also be forwarded to the expert. It is important that the expert understands that they must disclose all material they use in reaching their conclusions, even if it is not considered relevant to the case in question and that they cannot refuse to disclose information such as accreditation documentation or details of software developed to analyse information on the grounds that it would breach their intellectual property rights.
What is an Expert Witness Testimony?
Expert witness testimony is a type of evidence that a judge or jury can use to help them reach a decision. It is based on an individual’s professional expertise and technical facts about the case. An expert witness will offer their unbiased, impartial opinion that they have formulated through thorough analysis of the relevant data.
Medical expert witness testimony, for example, requires a thorough review of available medical records and contemporaneous literature about the case. This helps attorneys, judges, and jurors understand the underlying medical issues that are being discussed. It also enables them to better direct their arguments and avoid discussing irrelevant information that could create a bias toward one side of the case over the other.
The general rule is that expert evidence may not be given on matters outside of the expert’s knowledge. However, there are exceptions for this rule, both under statute and common law. For example, a physician’s medical expertise can be used to give their opinion on any admissible matter that calls for an expert’s opinion (Criminal Practice Direction V Evidence 19A Expert Witnesses).
Another example is a DNA expert witness who can testify about the validity and reliability of forensic techniques that have been compiled by other experts in the same field. This can help the court decide if a particular technique is valid and reliable enough to be admitted as evidence in a trial.
Whether or not expert witness testimony is used in a particular trial, it is still important to remember that all participants in the criminal justice system must act in accordance with the overriding objective of the Criminal Procedure Rules, which states that a criminal case should be dealt with justly. This includes acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty. Expert witness testimony can contribute to these goals in many ways, including helping the courts sift through complex legal evidence and reaching a sound decision on each case.
For many parties, hiring an expert witness is a complicated process that involves locating the right expert and ensuring that they are able to provide accurate, quality expert witness testimony. Legal task management software, like FindLaw’s LegalPro, streamlines this process and can save parties both time and money by performing a nationwide search for viable expert witnesses who are skilled in the specific area of the case.