The old adages “there is no such thing as bad publicity” and “any publicity is good publicity” may not hold true for expert witnesses. Experts involved in the glare of high profile cases face intense scrutiny and stress which can impact them and their careers.
Ms. Alyce LaViolette, who was on the witness stand for 12 days in the Jodi Arias case discussed this issue.
Q. Ms. LaViolette, what should expert witnesses consider before accepting a high profile case?
Expert witnesses need to consider how high-profile the case is, whether there are going to be cameras in the courtroom and the competency of the attorneys involved.
Q. What is the psychological impact on the expert of intensive national media scrutiny?
The impact on the expert can be extreme depending on attacks on the expert’s career, publications and threats to life and family. A professor from Columbia stated that he has never seen an attack like the one I received. The impact of social media has to be included in considering these cases.
Q. How can an expert witness hold up during a lengthy intensive cross-examination?
The expert needs to find ways to relax between appearances. In addition, the support of family, friends and advocates who have been watching the trial and believe you are doing the right thing is helpful. It is critical to look at your own psychological fitness before taking a high profile case.
Q. Will you be accepting high profile assignments in the future?
I don’t know that I will take a case like this again. Currently, I have turned down about 6 cases. It also depends on the case. High profile murder cases that involve the death penalty also receive intense media and citizen scrutiny.
Ms. LaViolette will be speaking at the SEAK National Expert Witness Conference to be held on May 3-4, 2014 in Orlando, FL.
How to Survive and Thrive in the High Profile Case
Alyce Dunn LaViolette MS, MFCC
Expert witnesses who are involved in a high profile case may have to take their testimony and expertise to a higher level to thrive and survive. In this presentation, Alyce Dunn LaViolette will explain what she went through in the high profile, Jodi Arias, nationally televised murder trial. She will share hard lessons learned from the initial retention, fee setting, meetings with counsel, direct- and the tough eleven day cross-examination she endured. Ms. LaViolette will offer practical suggestions for attendees in evaluating how, when, and if to accept high profile cases.
Alyce Dunn LaViolette MS, MFCC is an anger management, domestic violence advocate and experienced expert witness. She is a part-time lecturer at California State University and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally. Ms. LaViolette testified at the Jodi Arias trial and survived 12 days of direct- and cross-examination. She has been considered a pioneer in domestic violence and started one of the first groups in the country to work with perpetrators of DV in 1979. She has co-authored a best-selling book by Sage Publications, which just released the third edition in April of this year, It Could Happen to Anyone: Why Battered Women Stay. Ms. LaViolette is currently in private practice.