Expert witnesses can be a key component for successfully conducting a trial. There are experts in every field, such as a maritime expert witness. It is true that it can be costly to employ an expert witness for this purpose. However, their effectiveness at enhancing your success in the courtroom far outweighs their pricetag.
Below are three reasons why using an expert witness is always in your best interest.
You Don’t Have to Use the Best
The phrase “expert witness” is something of a misnomer. When the public thinks of an “expert” witness, they conjure up scenes from movies where the preeminent scholar in their field is put on the stand. When a person actually serves on a jury, therefore there is an expectation that every expert that comes before them is at the top of the academic world.
In the real world, however, experts put on the stand do not have to live up to this standard. In addition, juries do not have to be told this. As long as they meet the legal requirements for being a qualified expert (set out in the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. case), they can testify to the legal issue before the court. This allows greater flexibility regarding who the attorney can choose to fill the expert role.
Experts are Your Communication to the Jury
It’s well-known that many legal issues in a trial involve complicated, esoteric scientific concepts. For all intents and purposes, science is a language unto itself. Therefore, it becomes imperative that you find a qualified expert who can “translate” this information into a format that will allow the jury to understand them. An expert witness will intelligently, succinctly and comprehensively explain the scientific principles that are at issue in the case, all while using “layman’s terms”.
Not only do these witnesses bring an expertise that is needed, but they also can do so in a dispassionate, professional tone. The objectivity that they bring to your table gives more weight to the issues you are attempting to highlight. They can also provide a much-needed context that bolsters the testimony of other witnesses. This helps to bridge how the real world operates with the other information the jury hears.
When you are using lay witnesses, this is most often their first time being in a courtroom. To go from normal life and put on the “hot seat” to give testimony is a dramatic departure. A certain amount of preparation is required to get them ready. On the other hand, many expert witnesses already have a familiarity with courtroom procedure and what the boundaries are for giving testimony. They don’t have to be coached as a normal witness would.
In addition, expert witnesses already know their material. You can take what they already know and tailor their testimony squarely to the facts of the case. Since they are not bound by what they experienced (like a lay witness is), this allows for a more flexible approach in describing the underlying scientific principles of a case.
The above points demonstrate how important expert witnesses can be for presenting a strong case. Their value cannot be understated. Using an expert witness should always be something you consider when you are preparing for trial.