Elevator Pitch

So you think you’re an expert and got everything it takes to prove to the court and the world that you’re right. Well, guess what? Courts and juries don’t work that way. A total fraud with some sense of how to game the system can easily – I mean easily – outperform the best scientist in court. It’s the classic situation of the cook vs. the physician in Plato’s dialogue Gorgiasand it happens routinely,

Cookery simulates the disguise of medicine, and pretends to know what food is the best for the body; and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a competition in which children were the judges, or men who had no more sense than children, as to which of them best understands the goodness or badness of food, the physician would be starved to death.

If you think courts are infallible in an age of science and technology you’re wrong, because no one understands science and technology. Especially in court (see, e.g., Galileo’s Revenge by Peter Huber). Ali G best reflects the reality of the situation:

Ali G – Science

Ali G – Surgeon general

Introduction

We offer a full-day seven-hour training for expert witnesses, which consists of a theoretical and a practical component. The way it works is simple:

    • register for the course online under services for regular clients
    • provide us with your expert report to review
    • provide us with any useful information about your case, such as the opposing counsel or judge or the makeup of the jury, so we can help you further with your presentation

We’ll review the report before training, so we can properly examine you during the practical component. Classes are held on weekends (Saturday or Sunday) at the law school, in the moot court, so you can get a feel for what it’s like to be in court.

Schedule

Schedule

Session Duration Description
Breakfast 30 mins Breakfast will be provided so you can meet and greet with the instructor and other experts who will attend the training session.
Morning 3 hours We’ll go through the theory of expert testimony, including an introduction to the courtroom process and what makes an expert witness credible in court.
Lunch 2 hours There will be a group lunch and discussion, although you are welcome to take a break on your own.
Afternoon 3 hours You’ll be sitting on the hot seat answering questions by the instructor who will do a direct, cross- and re-direct examination on your expert report. Other trainees will act as the jury. All will provide feedback afterward.
Dinner 1 hour A group dinner will be provided along with the opportunity for further socialization/networking and to ask any remaining questions or discuss any issues or concerns.
Theoretical Component

Brief Intro to the Courtroom Process

You will be briefly introduced to the courtroom process: how it works, what you need to know and your role in it.

What Makes an Expert Witness Credible in Court?

Two things make an expert witness credible: form and content. We’ll discuss these in some detail.

1. Form

How you present yourself and information in court is very important. The same person presenting the same information the wrong way may affect how the court receives and interprets it. Juries tend to put a lot more stock into form than judges, since they find presentations hard to follow, whereas judges are used to consuming a lot of information. However, this isn’t always the case, as some judges fall into the terrible habits of ‘phasing out’ or becoming very judgmental and confident in their ability to ‘read people,’ even if unproven.

2. Content

We’ll go through what the court expects from credible witnesses from both a legal and an empirical aspect. From a legal aspect, there are some things judges are supposed to (but don’t always) look for in order to justify their finding that a person is credible or not. From an empirical aspect, research shows that certain things tend to make a person more credible.

Practical Component

During the practical component, we’ll examine you three times and provide you with feedback and tips to improve your performance. Other trainees, if present, will also contribute their feedback and advice.

Examination-In-Chief and Feedback

An examination-in-chief consists of asking open-ended questions, which can’t be answered by yes or no and don’t suggest an answer. For instance, if you say you fell, the examiner can ask: “What happened when you fell?”

Cross-Examination and Feedback

Cross-examination asks loaded questions, which means the question suggests an answer. For instance, the examiner may ask: “She cried again when you hit her, didn’t she?” If you’re quick about your wits, you may be thinking: “But I never hit her in the first place!” Or, you may fall for the trap, which can make it seem like you actually hit her, even if you didn’t.

Cross-examination questions are almost always closed-ended, meaning they can only be answered by yes or no.

Re-Examination and Feedback

If new information comes up during the cross-examination of a witness or a point of information needs to be clarified, it is possible to re-examine the witness only on that information to let them clarify.