Re: 5 questions about Expert Witness Testimony for my college paper *DUE THIS TUESDAY*
1. How does one prepare to make a testimony as an expert witness in court?
A court qualifies a person as an expert based on their "training and experience" in a specific field. If you have never been qualified then you better get prepared. The hardest time is the first time you attempt to get qualified. You must be able to articulate your education, knowledge, training, experience, skill, etc. Let's say you are a forensic photographer and photographed the defendant's shoe print at a homicide scene. The Commonwealth's attorney will attempt to have you testify as an expert. The defense will object because you have not been qualified in this particular case. So the Commonwealth attorney has to qualify you. He will ask you several questions to qualify you as an expert. You must be able to confidently articulate the above (education, knowledge, training, experience, etc). He will then offer you up as an expert. The defense attorney's job is to discredit you. At this point, answer confidently and truthfully. If you don't know, say you don't know. Don't let his questions rattle you or cause you to stretch the truth. His goal is to make you look less than an expert. The judge will then make a decision whether to accept you as an expert or not. As time goes by, you can use your prior qualifications in court to help you qualify later in court down the road.
2. Can you explain the importance of terminology/word choice when testifying in court?
When you are testifying as an expert at trial, you have jurors from different levels of education listening to your testimony. A million dollar medical vocabulary may cause some of your testimony to not be understood by the jury. It is important that your testimony is clear and understandable.
3. What is the purpose of giving expert witness testimony in court?
Expert testimony is based more than on an educated guess. It can be very compelling to a judge or jury.
4. What are some common mistakes that are made when expert witnesses testify?
They are not prepared. Lack of confidence in their ability. They do not look professional. Negative body language (squirming, disinterested, making faces, rolling their eyes, becoming defensive or emotional). A expert is presenting themselves as an expert on the stand. They need to look and be professional.
5. Do you have any advice for someone who is testifying as an expert witness for the first time?
Be prepared. Look professional. Be confident. Be honest. Be attentive. Speak clearly. Meet with the attorney and go over your testimony and questions he will ask you before the case is called. If nervous make eye contact with the person asking the questions rather then look around the room. Your attorney has specific questions he will ask you. Only answer the question the attorney asks you. Don't elaborate or go off on a tangent.