By James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq.
Proper preparation is an absolute requirement to for an expert witness to excel during cross-examination. Proper preparation includes a pre-trial meeting with retaining counsel and preparation done by the expert witness on her own. During the pre-trial meeting with retaining counsel the expert should:
• get a read on opposing counsel,
• get a read on the presiding judge,
• get a read on the jury or jury pool,
• review scheduling, logistical, procedural and other “housekeeping” matters,
• anticipate the difficult questions she will be asked and undergo a mock cross-examination,
• prepare to “bring out the bad” during direct examination, and, most importantly,
• feel well prepared so that she will be confident and as relaxed as possible at trial.
When the expert prepares alone, she should:
• carefully organize the case file,
• carefully reread her deposition transcript from the case,
• carefully review her written report,
• memorize the key names, dates, and facts related to the case and learn how to pronounce all names,
• review all documents (including deposition transcripts, reports, and literature) considered when formulating her opinion,
• review any of her writings or testimony in other cases on similar issues,
• update her research,
• think about the case and the questions likely to be asked on cross-examination and formulate potential responses to these questions,
• if possible, visit the courtroom, and
An expert should be prepared to answer questions concerning the pre-trial meeting with retaining counsel. Such questions should be answered truthfully but in a way that does not allow opposing counsel to mischaracterize the meeting.
Proper preparation is a must and will dramatically improve an expert witness’s performance during cross examination.
James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq., has trained thousands of expert witnesses through seminars, conferences, corporate training, training for professional societies, and training for governmental agencies including the FBI, IRS, NYPD, Secret Service, and Department of Defense. He is also frequently called by experts, their employers, and retaining counsel to train and prepare individual expert witnesses for upcoming testimony. Mr. Mangraviti assists expert witnesses one-on-one with report writing, mentoring, and practice development. He is a former litigator who currently serves as Principal of the expert witness training company SEAK, Inc. (www.testifyingtraining.com). Mr. Mangraviti received his BA degree in mathematics summa cum laude from Boston College and his JD degree cum laude from Boston College Law School. Mr. Mangraviti has designed dozens of expert witness training programs and has personally taught experts in a group setting over 200 times since 1997. He is the co-author of thirty books, including:
How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial: The SEAK Guide to Testifying as an Expert Witness How to Be a Successful Expert Witness: SEAK’s A–Z Guide to Expert Witnessing How to Write an Expert Witness Report; How to Prepare Your Expert Witness for Deposition; The Biggest Mistakes Expert Witnesses Make and How to Avoid Them; and How to Market Your Expert Witness Practice: Evidence-Based Best Practices.
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