Know Your Enemy: How Researching Opposing Experts Can Strengthen Your Position In Court


Know Your Enemy: How Researching Opposing Experts Can Strengthen Your Position In Court

Preparation for trial requires an attorney to know how to challenge the testimony offered by the opposition. This includes confronting the testimony offered by an expert witness. When dealing with an expert witness, exposing the truth is not only an essential part of a cross examination, but one that becomes imperative. An attorney must ask questions to allow the jury to see that the opposing expert witness has a bias in a case. It may also be possible to show the expert witness is claiming credentials they, in fact, may not possess or have previously exaggerated.

A collateral attack on an expert witness allows an attorney to turn the jury against them or at least create doubt as to their testimony. However, to develop a strong collateral attack, extensive research is essential. Before any testimony is given in open court, attorneys can learn a large amount of information in preparation to rebut that expert witness. Oftentimes, focusing less on the case facts themselves and more on the expert and their potential biases is a much more effective strategy for defeating an expert witness during cross examination. The information necessary to defeat an expert witness can be found in a number of major sources.

Search Engines and Social Media Websites

A focused internet search can reveal valuable information about an expert’s employment history, academic background, publications, and professional affiliations. Many expert witnesses have their articles, research projects, or conference presentations available for viewing by the online public. Looking into these resources can paint a better picture of the expert’s views on key topics at issue in a  case. An attorney or researcher can discover a pattern in the expert’s professional work. Such patterns can be investigated into why an expert’s scientific or expert conclusions are problematic in their scope, methodology, or results. Social networking websites also offer information on an expert’s professional background, current/former employer, specialties, education, recommendations, associations, contact information, and even a link to a professional website not easily found on a search engine.

In addition, any personal websites or blogs that contain information relevant to a case are fair game. An expert witness who posts Facebook comments that “car accident victims are injured by people, not car manufacturers,” can be impeached as having a bias against personal injury victims. Furthermore, social networking websites can yield extensive information as to an expert’s career in a particular industry. If they are using websites to promote themselves as ‘hired guns’ for a particular industry, the financial motive of their testimony can be challenged in court.

Blogs

Thanks to a review of online blogs, we can learn an expert’s biases or viewpoints on an issue prior to their testimony. Blogs generally feature informal written or video commentary. Because blogs are informal by nature, experts may publish statements that call their testifying opinions into question. This provides strong cross-examination material for use at trial. It is hard for an expert to deny their personal views when presented with written or video evidence of their own remarks. Also, comments posted by others to an expert’s blog entry may provide guideposts for attacking that expert’s testimony.

Old Resumes

As expert witnesses testify in cases more frequently, they are more likely to edit their resumes that are online. In addition, prior lawsuits often feature the expert’s resume as part of court-filed documents. From reviewing an old resume and comparing it to the newest resume, you can notice any differences. More importantly, you can discover what credentials have been changing over time. You can learn what recent additions have been made to their resume since their last testimony. It is not uncommon for experts to pad their resumes with credentials that lack in experience or education. Also it important to review their certifications and training. An expert who provides car accident reconstruction testimony with no experience in such work or an expert who discusses x-rays when they have no medical training would be problematic.

Expert Directories

Expert directories offer large amounts of information. Professional experts provide this information in order to obtain employment in a case. As such, this information is a way to verify all credentials. As a marketing tool, viewing an expert’s page and seeing a very large set of areas of expertise is concerning. By definition, experts cannot be experts in such a vast amount of subject areas. Experts who appear on such directory pages are more likely to testify outside of their actual expertise for a fee.

Expert Challenge Reports

Analysis of verdict reports that mention a particular opposing expert can help to strengthen your case for excluding that expert. From the reports, it is possible to draw conclusions about the expert witness’ potential biases. Verdict reports may show the expert always seems to testify for plaintiffs or defendants. Additionally, they may show the expert has testified for a particular party or attorney on numerous occasions exclusively.

The quickest way to find the most comprehensive information on any opposing expert’s litigation history is by accessing an Expert Witness Challenge Study. Challenge Studies provide overviews of any expert’s gatekeeping challenge outcomes across federal and state jurisdictions. Each Challenge Study report provides in-depth explanations for exclusion or admission of testimony along with detailed analyses of an expert’s strengths and weaknesses. These reports are critical for assessing the integrity of the opposition’s experts, giving attorneys a leg-up when facing the opposition in court. As the old maxim tells us, if you know your enemy – you are almost certain of a victory. You can learn more about Expert Witness Challenge Studies or download a sample Challenge Study here.

About The Author

Edward Maggio, J.D., M.S., has a legal background in corporate law and compliance matters. Edward graduated with Honors from New York Law School and completed his Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Oxford University.