By James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq.

Jurors are commonly faced with the sometimes daunting task of evaluating complex and often conflicting expert witness testimony. It is important for expert witnesses to understand what jurors want from them.  Expert witnesses who understand the desires, concerns, and fears of jurors can be much more effective at communicating with and persuading jurors.

What do jurors really want from experts? According to trial attorney Jay Dankner, jurors want:
•a relevant, coherent, understandable story,
•to be interested at all times, and
•to be spoken to in clear, unambiguous terms.[1]

Jury consultant Beth Bochnak states that jurors expect an expert to:
•explain complex material in everyday terms,
•describe process or procedures in a story format,
•use visual aids and hands-on demonstrations,
•appear confident in the jurors’ ability to understand the expert’s evidence,
•use analogies and commonsense examples,
•admit limitations, and
•teach but not lecture.[2]The jury evaluates and resolves many of the conflicts in expert testimony as a result of expert witness cross-examination. “When jurors are faced with the difficult task of evaluating evidence that is outside their common knowledge, they rely on sensible techniques: assessing the completeness and consistency of the testimony and evaluating it against their knowledge of related factors.”[3]

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. (  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:

[1] Jay W. Dankner, Esquire, “Communicating with the Court and Jury,” The SEAK 5th Annual National Expert Witness & Litigation Seminar Handbook (June 20-21, 1996) 212.

[2] Beth Bochnak, The SEAK 11th Annual National Expert Witness & Litigation Seminar Handbook (June 20-21, 2002).

[3] Sanja Iukovich and Valerie Hans, “Jurors and Experts,” Advocate: The Magazine for Delaware Trial Lawyers, 20 (1994) 16.