While direct examination is not as emotionally challenging as cross-examination, direct examination is often more difficult for an expert to excel at than cross. During direct examination, the expert must explain material that may be highly complex or dry to a lay audience — the jury. The expert must do so persuasively, but without appearing to be an advocate. Proper preparation is the key to success.
The following is a checklist of areas that you should consider as you prepare for your expert witness direct examination.
INTRODUCTION TO THE JURY
- How will you be introduced to the jury?
- How will counsel humanize you?
- What techniques will be used to help you bond with the jury?
- What are you an expert in?
- What makes you qualified to offer opinions in this case?
- What is your hands-on relevant experience in this area?
- What is your:
- Real world experience?
- What specific items make you uniquely qualified in this area?
- What else would you like the jury to know about your experience, training, and qualifications?
PROBLEMS AREAS THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH ON DIRECT-EXAMINATION
- What issues do you have as an expert witness that should be dealt with on direct-examination?
- What problems areas in the case should be defused on direct-examination?
- How can these issues best be dealt with on direct-examination?
- How will you simply explain your fees?
- How much do you charge for your time?
- How much have you billed to-date?
- How much have you been paid to-date?
- How many hours have you worked on this assignment?
- How many months/years have you worked on this assignment?
- What would you like to show/demonstrate?
- What demonstratives would you like to use?
- Have they been properly vetted by counsel?
- Is the courtroom properly equipped to handle your technology?
- Are the demonstratives easy to see and understand?
- Are the demonstratives memorable?
- How will you explain the methodology you utilized to reach your conclusions/opinions?
- What did you do (expressed in chronological order)?
- Which records did you analyze?
- Who did you interview?
- Which deposition transcripts did you review?
- What research did you do?
- What alternative explanations did you consider?
- What generally accepted methods did you use?
- What site inspections did you perform?
- Who/what did you examine?
- What testing did you perform?
- What issues were you asked to study?
- What opinions will you be offering?
- What areas will you not be opining on?
- How will you explain each opinion you reached in a simple, direct, and articulate fashion?
- How did you arrive at each opinion?
- What other possible explanations did you rule out in forming your opinions?
- How did you go about ruling them out?
- Have you been properly prepared by retaining counsel?
- Did you tell counsel what you are most concerned about?
- Has counsel:
- Gone over all the questions you will be asked on direct examination?
- What additional questions would you like counsel to ask you?
- Have you practiced dealing with your demonstratives?
- Have you gone through one or more practice sessions of you direct examination?
- What areas would you like counsel to avoid?
- What “connect the dot” questions would you like counsel to ask you?
- How would you like counsel to question you so you can get out of the jury box and teach the jury?
About the Author
Steven Babitsky, Esq. is the President of SEAK, Inc. the Testifying Training Company. Please see www.testifyingtraining.com for more information.