Simply put, the primary role of the expert witness is to make clear and simple a complex technical or scientific issue. In practice, there are negative and positive aspects that must be considered before committing to the role. In a major case suing for big dollar amounts witnesses can expect to have their life history spread out like a roadmap for the world to see. On the other hand, finding and excavating the “smoking gun” piece of evidence can bring satisfaction far beyond any fees or hourly wage.
Based on the author’s more than 30 years of experience as a successful expert witness, Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom demonstrates how to properly present scientific testimony and survive the onslaught of cross examination in court. Written in an engaging style, the book begins with introductory material to the world of litigation and the role and qualifications of the expert witness. It covers necessary legal protocols such as rules of evidence and procedure.
Focusing on scientific testimony, the author demonstrates the use of scientific literature, presentation of testimony, and the language of lawyers. He addresses the courtroom experience with actual cases, experience, and pitfalls to illustrate procedure and strategy, cross-examination, and the exposure of personal history. Offering critical observations and judicial opinions, the book presents several exemplary civil, criminal, medical malpractice, and workers compensation cases. The author also includes his personal advice and tips on the business of expert witnessing. There is an extensive glossary of legal terms, detailed footnotes, and useful appendices summarizing code of conduct, paperwork, and examples of case reports.
Offering an insider’s look at the labyrinthine world of litigation, Expert Witnessing and Scientific Testimony: Surviving in the Courtroom provides a guide for expert witnesses in today’s legal environment.
Table of Contents
Involvement in a Legal Action
Welcome to the World of Litigation!
How Did I Get Into This?
I’m Not an Expert or a Witness
When Recognizing Errors and Omissions Is Your Job
Expert Witnessing the Who
The What and Where
The Legal Definition of Negligence
Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse
Rules of Evidence and Codes of Civil Procedure
What You Need to Know
The Hearsay Rule
The Chain of Custody
The Rape Evidence Collection Kit
The Body of Scientific Literature
Libraries Are for Dinosaurs
And Then There Was MEDLARS
CD-ROMS: Making Progress
Too Much Information!
Foundation Equals Persuasion
“I’ve Seen His Noodles, and They’re Okay!”
The Weight of Testimony
The Foundation of Knowledge
The Exponential Decay Curve
The Expert Witness
Believing in Yourself
The Invisible Expert
The Truth Only Comes Out One Way
Now That I’m an Expert, What’s Next?
Who Do You Work For, the Defense or the Plaintiff?
Speaking the Language of Lawyers
Legal Language 101
The Discovery Process
Responsiveness to the Question
Don’t Speak “Legalese”
To Do the Courtroom Dance, First Learn the Steps
Step 1: The Deposition
Step 2: The Mandatory Settlement Conference
Step 3: The Trial
Skeletons in Your Closet
Digging Up the Past
Pretext: When the Line Is Crossed
Finding a Few Skeletons Yourself
The Résumé: One of Your Best and Worst Tools
Skeletons in Unlikely Places
The Rehabilitation of an Expert Witness
Impeachment Is Not Just for Presidents!
The First Few Minutes of Cross-Examination
Toward the End of Cross-Examination
Don’t Underestimate the Jury
Criminal, Civil, and Workers’ Compensation Cases
Workers’ Compensation Cases
Toxic Torts in Retrospect
An Introduction to Toxic Torts
Compensation: It’s Not Just for Work Anymore
One Case Is Tragic; Two or More Cases Are an Epidemic
The Birth of a Lawsuit
The Dual Role of the Court
A Lawsuit Is Made, Not Created!
Professional Liability Insurance
“Going Barefoot” with Limited Financial Assets
Actionable Events and Activities
Scientific Accuracy, Completeness, and Documentation
Out of the Ordinary: Investigations, Cases, and Trials
The Abalone’s Revenge
Did She Die Now or Later?
Peep Show Problems
Fried Chicken Maggots
The Musician’s Exposure to Asbestos
A Double Shotgun Death in the Back Country
Dr. Tyndall, I Presume?
Is That My Pubic Hair?
The Bull-Riding Roofer
Don’t Shake My Hand
The Lethality of Human Poop
Lipoid Pneumonia Doesn’t Mean “Fat Lungs”
Expert Witnesses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, C.E. Andreas
Do You Charge for Your Testimony? No, I Charge for My Time!
The Fee Structure
Pro Bono Work
Workers’ Compensation Reports
Travel and Other Expenses
Privacy versus Disclosure
Potholes in the Road to Expert Witnessing
Appendix A: California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2034
Appendix B: Actual Case Report Examples
Appendix C: Forms and Other Data
Appendix D: The Curriculum Vitae
" ... important points that are worth reinforcing with any expert. ... offers some sage advice about depositions and trial testimony ... comments about finding one’s own skeletons are helpful and instructive.”
— Leslie J. Bryan in Trial
“Surviving in the courtroom is the theme of this how-to-do-it text. It has loads of tips and hints as well as theory and procedure for being an expert witness. A good reference if you will be on the stand. 3 stars.”
—Journal of the American Association of Forensic Dentists