If you are blessed with an expert witness who not only is proficient in his/her area of expertise, but also juror-sympathetic, count yourself among the lucky few, and hit “delete.” If, however, you sometimes find yourself working with an expert who, although proficient in the required expertise, but less than juror-sympathetic, read on.
A common problem is the expert who holds an attitude of “This is so because I, THE expert, say it is so.” Jurors are not convinced by such arrogance, even if it is well-deserved. What does convince jurors is the expert who seeks to educate the jurors, rather than impose his/her opinion. Encourage your experts to present information in a way that guides the jurors through a series of logical steps that results in an inescapable conclusion that just happens to coincide with said expert’s opinion.
You can help your expert get there by challenging him/her in prep sessions with questions such as: “Why do you hold this opinion? Couldn’t it be X instead?” “Explain it to me as you would to a high school student.” “How did you arrive at this opinion? What’s the logic, step by step?” Remind your expert as often as necessary that their job is not to defend/plead the case – that’s your job. Their job is to educate the jurors to why your interpretation is the one that should prevail. Educating is far more compelling than arguing or fighting with opposing counsel – which is, more often than not, a losing battle. And you’re there to win!