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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Seven Fundamentals for the Effective Expert

There are seven fundamentals to keep in mind to be an effective expert witness at trial. The expert should:

  • Know the professional area.
  • Do all of the homework for the case.
  • Develop an individual style of delivery and demeanor.
  • Be enthusiastic without being an advocate.
  • Be prepared for cross-examination.
  • Pattern oneself after a best teacher.
  • Dress conservatively for court to fit the professional role.

The expert must be professionally competent and perform a thorough job of analysis, investigation, testing and reporting. Individual style and demeanor must be developed. The expert should display enthusiasm without advocacy. The expert will do well to pattern a style and delivery after exceptional teachers and be prepared to illustrate testimony graphically or with demonstrations.

Before actually testifying, the expert can mentally visualize the best possible performance as a witness. Use of the word "performance" is intentional because, in a way, the analyst is performing a key role in a real-life drama. The expert's credibility will be established by the effective use of teaching skills.

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Date Created: August 7, 2023