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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Some Key Observations

A number of observations and admonitions will help make the expert much more effective and valuable as an expert witness. These are not presented in order of importance:

  • Overall demeanor and teaching techniques must be kept in mind at all times.
  • Seek to achieve outstanding performance on each testimonial occasion.
  • Tone of voice should moderate and modulate to fit the occasion in a realistic conversational pattern.
  • Graphics must be able to stand alone, speak for themselves, and yet still be the subject of the expert's teaching techniques as salient points are emphasized throughout testimony.
  • The expert must make sure to be heard clearly throughout the room.
  • Use clear handwriting on charts.
  • Written materials must be readable and understandable.
  • Face the audience (judge, jury or hearing panel) at all times.
  • Physical position and posture in the courtroom before and after testimony is important; never sit at counsel table or in close proximity to counsel.
  • Do not pass notes to counsel during testimony of the opposition.
  • Avoid hallway conversations exposing a theory or strategy; someone of the opposition may overhear.
  • Avoid casual recess conversations between opposing experts.
  • Be sensitive to the pressure and insecurity being felt by the trier of fact.
  • Control and avoid any habitual body language, such as an involuntary grimace, an inappropriate smile, a hand tremor, or other physical manifestations that may suggest insecurity or uncertainty.

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