What I learn from these folks not only
helps me and classroom, but in court as well. In short, the benefit of this to attorneys
comes in the form experts who do not talk down to people from the stand but instead embrace human
quality in the courtroom. A little humility can go a long way. Furthermore, I have noticed experts who teach and speak appear more relaxed and
controlled at depositions and on the stand than professionals
who do not. Bonus! Most expert who teach and present have mastered the art of
PowerPoint, videos, and other visual tools that help to keep
jurors awake, interested, and focused. Finally lecture-seasoned experts tend to recover seamlessly from
an occasional fumble and seldom them find themselves
intimidated by opposing counsel. Many academic suffer from the affliction a soft thin hide. I’ve seen and heard a number brilliant professors who crumble like
tissue paper when attacked by an aggressive opposing
counsel going for the jugular. Personally, I have experienced
attorneys at depositions who have lunged at me bellowing over the conference table
presumably these lawyers have either forgotten that we are in the discovery deposition, not a trial, or merely want to test the
waters to determine how I might react on the stand. Will I crack? Will I falter in my testimony? Will I break
into tears? As a student of behavioural economics, this thin-skinned phenomenon continues to
intrigue me. This trait appears to be least prevalent among individuals we have survived the hell of war or who
have experienced a traumatic event during their formative years. More generally this trait appears to
diminish during childhood with rough play or with running the streets. Therefore, it is important that an expert
witness has some life experience outside the
cerebral world of academia, experience that allows them and enables
them to relate to human beings as well as to books. Working minimum wage jobs as teens or young adults while in
school has provided further life lessons for
many of us. I preferred delivering newspapers and
working as a counter clerk. Other friends and colleagues gravitated
toward bussing tables, or driving a taxi. Nevertheless, working these seemingly menial jobs has
contributed positively to our growth. Some attorneys and economists receive their street education by
playing in blues bands, performing in community or guerrilla
theater, or demonstrating for emotionally charged causes. From such experiences, a group code seems to develop. This
code of the street forms the seed for what later
grows into a set of professional ethics. Learning mutual
responsibility and dependence on one another in hard times helps to develop humane survival skills, ones that many people lack in this day and age A number of my friends with whom I have performed music acted in theater have gone on to become successful
attorneys. If these life experiences have helped us to
develop our professional practices in an ethical
manner, then it seems that the outcome gained is worth the pain of not being paid gigs, of working with temperamental musicians
and actors, and of having audiences and venue managers threaten us or throw throw things at us. In every pursuit, one has to start somewhere. In the wide field of forensic science,
we eventually would find ourselves short of seasoned experts if attorneys did not
give neophytes a chance to hone their professional
skills. However, most attorneys still wish to hire an
expert who has been around the block a few
times. For forensic work, this means having a number depositions
courtroom testimonies under one’s belt. This qualification begs the question of how much
experience is sufficient? Considering that many
experts take readily to forensic tasks while others
washout after a brief episode, it seems that
the magic number of deps and testimonies remains arbitrary. Nevertheless, based upon my questioning attorneys and other experts and my
personal experience, it appears that a forensic practice settles in after a dozen depositions and testimonies. Beyond this point, ongoing experiences in exercises to improve one’s abilities, represents a good investment up time. We know of one law firm that has a television studio in its expansive domain and another law practice that has built a moot court room in the carriage house
behind its offices. They built these in order to
practice to review and to improve the skills of
their attorneys and to develop the on stand performance of their clients and experts. In my experience, attorneys who have hired expert witnesses often have a good
handle on what they want and need from a forensic expert. On the other hand, there are attorneys who don’t know what they need. These are usually attorneys who have not
used experts extensively or who are new to the practice of law. The main attributes for which all
attorney should look in an expert is a combination of
academic credentials, relevant experiences, and street smarts. Attorneys should seek out an expert who has gone through the grueling work earning a PhD In addition, this person should know how
to communicate with and to the average adult in a down to
earth manner Finally, this expert should not be easily
taken in or hoodwinked. So, look for the doctor.