In Four things an attorney should know about retaining an expert witness, construction site expert witness William Gulya, Jr., President & CEO, Middlesex Trenching Company, writes:
The decision to retain an expert witness is an important factor in any litigation. Strategic selection and communication with the expert can have a substantial impact on the case, from settlement options to court room testimony. The opposite is also true — the wrong choice of an expert witness can result in poor or negative results. I have compiled four recommendations for attorneys from an expert witness perspective.
4. Do Not Withhold Information What your expert witness does not know can and likely will hurt your case. Just as an accomplished attorney does not ask a question for which he or she does not already know the answer, withholding from the expert facts or materials that you think are not relevant is a recipe for disaster. In deposition or at trial your expert is likely to be surprised or embarrassed and could possibly lose all credibility with the judge and/or jury and his or her opinions and conclusions be regarded as insignificant.
A legitimate expert is not interested in reviewing data for the purposes of running up unnecessary bills for time. He or she is concerned about having all required information that may affect his or her opinions and conclusions. Allow the expert to determine whether a particular piece of information or evidence is relevant.
Therefore, ongoing communication is a critical component of the attorney-expert relationship. It is imperative the attorney continues an open dialogue and forwards new data or evidence to the expert witness as it may become available through the discovery process. One of the worst things that can happen after an expert has issued his or her expert report or testified at deposition or in trial is for the expert to be trapped by opposing counsel and made to look incompetent and less than credible due to insufficient information.