In Utilizing Experts In An Expert Way, Kelli Hinson and Tesa Hinkley describe the crucial role expert witnesses have at trial and give advice on how best to use them. In this excerpt, Hinson and Hinkley give tips on striving for an objective tone on direct and cross examination.
Otherwise strong experts sometimes may fail to present their testimony in a professional manner. On direct examintation, they are friendly and expansive with the attorney, but on cross examination, they clam up or become adversarial. This change in tone (or even body language) can create an impression that the expert is a “hired gun” ranther than an independent and objective authority.
Attorneys should help experts to convey objectivity when they testify. In practice, this means that experts should answer questions – on both direct and cross examination – in a way that conveys that they are helping the fact finder to understand their opinion fully. There is no reason for experts to change their demeanor when responding to direct or cross examination, thereby reminding the court that they were hired by one of the parties and not the other.
Excerpted from the ABA Expert Witness Alert, Summer/Fall 2007