Expert witnesses can make or break your case. But what if you’ve never hired one before? How can you be sure you’re selecting an intelligent, credible witness that will sway the judge or jury to your side? Here are just a few tips for choosing an expert witness.
1. Gauge Their Level of Authority
Don’t choose an expert witness that isn’t really an expert. Not only will they be more likely to jeopardize your case by misspeaking or misrepresenting the facts, but they’ll also hold less influence over the jury if they aren’t an important person in their field. Look for someone with power, experience or educational prestige to put on a show of authority for the laypeople.
2. Do a Background Check
Has your witness ever been arrested, assaulted or interrogated? Do they have any conflicts of interest with your case? Is there anything in their personal history that would make a jury look at them with suspicion? Background checks are essential to determining witness credibility, so don’t be afraid to dig deep to verify that they’re squeaky clean. Comb through their financial records; look for any arrest or probation paperwork; call their alma mater and ask if they really graduated.
3. Know Where to Look
So you’ve established your criteria for choosing an expert witness. Now where can you find them? One option is expert witness services where you’ll be matched with professionals in the field or industry where you need an authority. Another possibility involves personally reaching out within those fields. For example, if you need the consultation of an oncologist, look for oncologists in the area and ask if they’re available to be an expert witness.
4. Coach Them
Choosing an expert witness is only half of the battle. To truly prepare them for the courtroom, you’ll need to do “practice runs” or “mock trials” where the two of you go back and forth with questions and answers. Teach them to phrase their speech for maximum impact, and help them rein in any verbal tics or bad body language that would hurt your case.
These are just a few tips for finding, choosing and training an expert witness. As you can see, there are many different factors to consider in your decision, so it’s important not to rush the selection process. Take your time and choose carefully.