Judge Susan Burke, writing for SEAK, offers the following tips for expert witnesses:
1. Highlight Your Relevant Qualifications
• Do not ramble on about every residency, professional association, honor, and peer reviewed article.
• Focus on relevant experience.
• Include memorable experience if possible.
• The goal is to demonstrate to the jury that you are so knowledgeable you cannot be wrong.
2. Use Plain Language
• Do not talk in your language.
• Always say the same thing in plain language.
• Teach the jurors a limited vocabulary.
• Define technical terms.
• Use real life images to which jurors can relate.
• Clearly explain the reasons for your opinion.
3. Be Thorough
• Gather all the information you need to reach your opinion.
• Know what evidence will be presented at trial.
4. Address Bias
• Know what you are paid.
• Know what percentage of your income is from expert witness work.
• Know what percentage of the time you testify for plaintiffs and defendants.
5. Do Not Argue During Cross-Examination
• Try to explain if opposing counsel lets you.
• If opposing counsel does not allow that, wait for redirect.
• Wait for opposing counsel to finish asking the question before you answer.
• Look for how well opposing counsel asks leading questions.
• Provide reasoning first, then answer the question.
• Do not use the word “because.”
Judge Burke is a District Court Judge in Minnesota. She has spoken on how to be an effective expert at past SEAK seminars.