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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Positive Qualities for Effective Testimony

Extensive observation of expert witness testimony in numerous trial settings generates a constellation of positive traits that can further guide the expert in achieving testimonial excellence:

  • Knowledge of the science or specialty area.
  • Ability to translate the complex into the simple.
  • Openness and honesty, even to the extent of admitting fallibility or possibility of error.
  • Substantial history of solving similar problems in the past, both actual and theoretical.
  • Testimony consistent with that of other experts.
  • Use of expert information and investigation in unique ways.
  • Creative preparation of models, charts, drawings and demonstrations.
  • Irrefutable scientific, technical, factual or professional data back-up.
  • Careful attention to factual elements, testing and lab results, measurements and similar components.
  • Supportive use of the literature.
  • Absence of exaggeration or underestimation.
  • Careful testing and documentation.
  • Ability to support every conclusion with examples and real-life application.
  • Correct use of standard formulas.
  • Coordination of verbal testimony with documentary and demonstrative evidence.
  • Quietness, calmness and humility, combined with self-confidence and conviction.
  • Ability to convey a sense of genuine caring for the outcome and the people involved, while maintaining and projecting an objective attitude of non-advocacy.
  • Opinions that are supported by admitted evidence.
  • Absorption of opposition testimony that supports the expert's own position.
  • Grappling with facts and substantive factors to yield a meaningful result.
  • Hands-on participation in a corrective process.
  • An outstanding résumé or curriculum vitae.

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Date Created: September 1, 2023