Comprehending How Much Your Expert Witness Presentation Can Strengthen or Weaken the Actual Facts

The strength or weakness of both sides of the case depends not only on the facts in the matter, but on the expert’s ability to present analyses and opinions to the ‘triers of fact.’

The phrase ‘triers of fact’ refers to the people responsible for the final judgment of the case. This may be jurors, or it may be a judge alone in a trial that does not involve jurors. When a judge alone reviews all evidence in a trial and decides a verdict without any jury, it is called a ‘bench trial.’ The participants in the litigation may also have agreed on the use of an arbitrator or mediator who may have similar responsibilities to these more recognizable ‘triers of fact.’

Keep in mind that the deposition process may be presented to you as simply a discovery procedure. Attorneys have said to me in deposition that they are just “trying to discover the facts.” That statement is sometimes an attempt to cause you to drop your guard and to be more relaxed than you should be. Yes, they are trying to get the facts out, but that is not all they are trying to do. An unstated goal of the deposition day is to somehow get you to put statements on the record that may later be used to embarrass, discredit, or disqualify you.

A key goal of the opposing lawyer, through the intensity and thoroughness of his questioning, is to uncover any outright mistakes, notable weaknesses, or notable oversights that you may have made during the process of your investigations. In addition, the opposing attorney may ask you questions from different angles at different times during the deposition day. He is hoping that you will give answers that may be different enough that he can claim later at trial that they sound contradictory.

Many attorneys will use the deposition room as a battleground. If possible, they would like to destroy you as an expert witness then and there. A deposition is often the only opportunity you will have to testify in most of your litigation support jobs. The rules here are looser for the attorneys, and they can get away with more risky questioning of you than they would be allowed to do in a trial.

You must stay focused and stay alert in a deposition. Most of the time, your deposition testimony will be the only testimony you give in the case, and its strength and your preparedness can dramatically affect the results.