If you sat down with a trial and jury consultant what advice would you give to expert witnesses?

Beth Bochnak, speaking at the SEAK National Expert Witness Conference gave the following advice to expert witnesses:

What Do Jurors Want to Hear?

1)     Jurors want you to:

a)     Explain complex material in everyday terms

b)     Describe processes or procedures in a story format

c)     Use visual aids and hands on demonstrations

d)     Appear confident in the jurors ability to understand your evidence

e)     Use analogies and common sense examples

f)      Admit limitations

g)     Teach but don’t lecture

2)     Rules to live by

a)     Understand the question

b)     Think before answering

c)     Don’t accept opposing counsel’s “facts”

d)     Don’t try to second guess

e)     Don’t argue

f)      Focus on the question

g)     Say “I don’t know.”

3)     Preparing for direct

a)     5 minute videotaped segments

b)     Imagine you are sharing what you know with neighbors

c)     Become familiar with juror demographics

d)     Prepare visual aids – simple charts or graphs

e)     Work as a team with counsel

4)     See Yourself as a Witness

a)     What impression will the jury have of you?

b)     What do you like about that person?

c)     What would you change?

d)     Did you notice any repetitive mannerisms?

e)     What did your voice sound like?

5)     Successful Direct Examination

a)     Give short answers

b)     Attorney will ask for follow up

c)     Make statements, not speeches

d)     Educate the jury

e)     Use real life examples accessible to jurors

f)      Explain all technical language

g)     Use trial themes

Explain at a high school level

6)     Answer Pattern

a)     Listen carefully

b)     Think first

c)     Get the essence of the answer in a sentence or two

d)     Wait for counsel to ask for explanation or elaboration

e)     Repeat essence of answer

7)     Understand the Question

a)     Listen to the question.

b)     Don’t assume you know what counsel will say.

c)     Answer ONLY the question.

d)     Don’t elaborate until/unless asked.

e)     Don’t guess.

f)      Correct any mistakes you make.

8)     Delivery

a)     Turn chair toward jury

b)     Make immediate eye contact with jury

c)     Maintain eye contact

d)     Use vocal emphasis and variety

e)     Look for opportunities to stand up and teach

f)      Smile

g)     Remain positive

h)     Be sincere

i)      Identify and connect with the jury

j)      Engage in the process

9)     Cross Examination

a)     Do not change attitude or tone of voice

b)     Maintain eye contact with jury

c)     Avoid arguing or jousting with opposing counsel

d)     Repeat phrases from direct examination

e)     Continue teaching

f)      Have conviction

g)     Be positive


Edward Schwartz, PhD will be speaking at this year’s conference on May 3-4, 2014 in Orlando, FL.

Effective Presentation of Expert Witness Testimony

Edward P. Schwartz Ph.D.

Dr. Schwartz will explain and demonstrate how expert witnesses using clarity, coherence, comprehension, and credibility can be particularly effective and persuasive. He will discuss why some experts are liked, respected, and effective and why some are not. Dr. Schwartz will offer practical suggestions on how experts of all disciplines can improve their testimony and effectiveness.

Edward P. Schwartz Ph.D. is a jury consultant for TrialGraphix, a national jury consulting firm, in its New York office. He has conducted jury behavior research, aided with witness preparation, and consulted in dozens of cases. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, and Boston University and is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants. Dr. Schwartz holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as well as an MSL degree from Yale Law School. He also holds a BA in economics from Yale University.