How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witnesses #10

In How Attorneys Can Best Utilize Their Medical Expert Witness: A Medical Expert’s Perspective, Dr. Vernon M. Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, FAPA, writes on Medical Court Testimony: The Plan of Attack:

Teaching the expert how to avoid pitfalls
The attorney needs to ensure that the expert understands the tricks that the other attorney may use. He needs to teach the expert, if necessary. This should be a given, but many “expert consultants” are not experts in the medicolegal side, though they know a great deal about their expertise. These are examples of pitfalls that the expert should be aware of during cross-examination:

1. The compound question.

2. The hypothetical question.

3. The non-differentiation of quantified information which may or may not require standardized testing. For example, history-taking is often amplified indirectly via written or computerized questionnaires : This is a legitimate clinical data acquisition technique, though not standardized for a population.

In contrast, many psychological tests require sample comparisons and specific standardized norms or even percentile scores, because individual responses are based on how others of the same age, sex and demographics would respond.

4. The demonstration to the jury of all the negative data in the evaluation (if defense) or positive data (if plaintiff). Prioritizing is critical.

More to follow on assisting civil litigation attorneys with medical experts from Dr. Neppe, Director, Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute, Seattle, WA,