Read an Excerpt
From Chapter One
There are two kinds of witnesses: lay witnesses and expert witnesses. Eyewitnesses to the event may only tell what they saw, heard, felt or smelled; they are not allowed to tell what others have said (hearsay) or say what they thInk of the case. As a technical witness, on the other hand, you are allowed to express your opinion on any relevant Issue falling within the scope of your expertise. It doesn't matter that you weren't there when It happened. You're presumed to be an impartial, disinterested witness who Is simply explaining why and how things happen.
Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that if scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact (jury) to understand the evidence or to determine an issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education may testify thereto in form of an opinion or otherwise.
Why would anyone want to be an expert witness? Five reasons come to mind:
1. To capitalize on your years of education and experience. Serving as a litigation consultant is a way to do more work in the field you enjoy. It enables you to develop a sideline that could lead to a post-retirement career. Sometimes people become experts just because they get tired of doing what they were doing. Perhaps you are already a consultant and are searching for another profit center. Litigation consulting has been called a prestigious way to moonlight.
2. To get into the action. To experience the challenge, drama and excitement of dealing with people's lives, large sums of money or even the course of history. It is your chance to prove or disprove scientific theories. Expert-witness work will put some excitement into your life.
3. To put something back into the system. That is, to help people in your field and to contribute to society. To see that justice is done.
4. To be hired to study. Since you must anticipate every question at deposition and at trial, you will have to conduct research, study and write. This bank of material may later be used in articles and books. Study is fun if you love your subject.
5. To make money. Expert-witness work pays well. It may take up 10% of your time but contribute 20% to your income. There is no inventory investment and the overhead is low. This is a new profit center for your business. You may charge $50 to $500 per hour for work you do at home and $1,000 to $3,000 per day plus expenses when you have to leave town to testify. Serving as an expert can be very rewarding financially. See the Guide to Experts' Fees, listed in the Appendix.
Perhaps none of these reasons apply to you. Maybe you work for one of the parties to the suit and are being called to testify about company procedures.
This could be the only deposition or trial you attend. If so, you may wish to jump ahead to Chapter Four.
An expert witness or litigation consultant is someone skilled in a particular art, trade or profession or with special Information or expertise in a particular subject area. The expert assists the client-attorney in understanding and presenting the technical aspects of the case.