A good expert witness can be the difference between winning a case and walking away with your head hung low. If you’ve never hired one before, however, you might be wondering where to begin. What distinguishes a good witness from a bad one? What criteria should you be using when making your selection? Here are just a few things to consider if you’re looking at expert witnesses.
Expert witnesses aren’t experts in everything. They’ll have specific areas of expertise that you can call upon in front of a jury. For example, a financial expert witness might testify about budgets, incomes and taxes; a medical expert witness might provide their opinion on a disease or surgery. Either way, you’ll want to find the right kind of witness for your case. They need to be a good match.
It’s important that your witness doesn’t have a lot of skeletons in their closet. The other side will be trying to discredit both their testimony and their character, so if they’ve struggled with legal problems in the past, you can bet that your opposing counsel will wave it in front of the jury. Do yourself a favor and find someone who is squeaky clean.
This is often overlooked when it comes to hiring expert witnesses, but it’s critical that you consider it before you actually put them on the stand. How are they under pressure? Do they sweat, stutter or fidget? Will they get defensive when the other side starts pummeling them with questions, or will they keep their cool? You don’t need an expert who will cast a shadow over your case. Look for someone with both skill and experience in front of a jury.
If you’ve been looking around for an expert witness, these are just a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind as you consider your options and make some phone calls. The most important thing is that you feel confident in your choice, so don’t rush it. Take your time; find a good witness; prepare them appropriately for court.