Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom

Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom

Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom

Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom

Synopsis

Simply put, the primary role of the expert witness is to make clear and simple a complex technical or scientific issue. In practice, there are negative and positive aspects that must be considered before committing to the role. In a major case suing for big dollar amounts witnesses can expect to have their life history spread out like a roadmap for the world to see. On the other hand, finding and excavating the "smoking gun" piece of evidence can bring satisfaction far beyond any fees or hourly wage.

Based on the author's more than 30 years of experience as a successful expert witness, Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroomdemonstrates how to properly present scientific testimony and survive the onslaught of cross examination in court. Written in an engaging style, the book begins with introductory material to the world of litigation and the role and qualifications of the expert witness. It covers necessary legal protocols such as rules of evidence and procedure.

Focusing on scientific testimony, the author demonstrates the use of scientific literature, presentation of testimony, and the language of lawyers. He addresses the courtroom experience with actual cases, experience, and pitfalls to illustrate procedure and strategy, cross-examination, and the exposure of personal history. Offering critical observations and judicial opinions, the book presents several exemplary civil, criminal, medical malpractice, and workers compensation cases. The author also includes his personal advice and tips on the business of expert witnessing. There is an extensive glossary of legal terms, detailed footnotes, and useful appendices summarizing code of conduct, paperwork, and examples of case reports.

Offering an insider's look at the labyrinthine world of litigation, Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroomprovides a guide for expert witnesses in today's legal environment.

Excerpt

I’ve been battered, I’ve been flattered, I’ve been bruised, I’ve been embarrassed, I’ve been bloodied, I’ve been thanked, I’ve been cajoled, I’ve been attacked, I’ve been befriended, I’ve been accused of acting, I’ve been called a charlatan, I’ve been called sneaky, I’ve been called a whore, but I’ve continued to survive as a paid expert witness.

Thirty years’ experience in both part-time and full-time litigation-support activity has convinced me of the need to write this book. I’ve also run an active safety and industrial hygiene consulting practice that actually prompted the writing of this collection of helpful hints and observations. Also, this book can serve as a guide for those who are inadvertently dragged into the legal system or are professional expert witnesses. Although the preponderance of examples is drawn from an expert witness practice heavily weighted by asbestos cases, the information is applicable to other types of cases.

Involvement in legal issues, either as a percipient witness or expert witness, has many virtues, and just as many negative aspects. These can only be learned by being involved and facing the challenges posed in actual cases that involve you, or into which you become entangled. Each new case can pose a learning experience regardless of how often the circumstance or incident has been examined previously. Finding and excavating that “smoking gun” piece of evidence after tedious hours of case review brings satisfaction far beyond any fees or hourly wage earned. Examining the actions—or inaction—of both professionals and nonprofessionals in residential, commercial, or industrial environments often serves as a lesson of what not to do in your own activities.

The negative aspects aren’t the same for all those who have to be involved in litigation or engage in expert-witness work. A key aspect of being a witness is that you are fair game during cross-examination questioning. In a major case, when suing for “big dollar” amounts, you can expect to have your life history opened up like a road map, with all the detours and potholes pointed out vividly to the jury. Cross-examination is grueling to some, an enjoyable session of repartee to others. The tedium of long hours in deposition, during which your fundamental beliefs are attacked to a point of abstraction, can put off many professionals and nonprofessionals alike who would otherwise . . .

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