Expert witnesses have extensive knowledge, education, experience or training in a specific area. For example, a bank expert witness may have significant knowledge and experience in banking. Although some experts actually participate as witnesses in a trial, others may only provide pretrial knowledge or submit affidavits for a case.
Identify Your Goals
First, do you plan to have the witness testify, or are you interviewing your witness to gain information or an affidavit? Why do you want to use this witness? During the initial interview and deposition, your goal is to gather information to persuade the jury during the trial.
Your initial goal should not be to “win” the case. You need answers. However, during depositions, your opposition may be building strategies for cross examination and jury persuasion. You should also consider these strategies and develop ways to overcome them.
Your witness should be able to share their extensive knowledge to a wide audience. They should also be reputable. They should have experience with testifying and understand that the jury will be watching them the minute they step into the courthouse. Therefore, they should act as if they are in front of the jury well before arriving at the courthouse.
An expert witness should be persuasive and authentic. Avoid witnesses who are easily intimidated or unsure. In addition, witnesses should not be arrogant because this may damage their credibility and turn the jury against them.
Listen and Learn
Your witness’s job is to teach the jury, but you will learn also. Therefore, ask questions during interviews and depositions. Don’t be intimidated by the witness’s knowledge. If you are unclear about theories or terms, ask for clarification. Then, help the witness simplify these concepts for the jury.
Prepare the Witness
Finally, prepare your witness for court. Teach them to only answer the questions they are asked without providing additional information. Go over possible questions with them and help them with their presentation and authenticity.
If you or the jury lacks knowledge about some part of a case, such as detailed banking regulations, consider consulting an expert witness.