Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is Cross-Examination a Viable Opportunity for Your Expert to Educate? Yes!

Most good experts know that their role is one of educating the jurors to their point of view, to their opinion. This is true whether the expert is responding to direct or cross examination.

Experts are usually adept at looking at counsel during a question posed in direct examination, then spontaneously looking at the jurors for the greater part of their response. They are indeed fulfilling their role as educators.

However, when it comes to cross, too many experts become locked in an eye-to-eye duel with opposing counsel, mightily defending their opinion. They stop educating. One of the easiest ways to counter this tendency is to encourage your experts to maintain good eye contact with the jurors even during cross. Not, of course, as the question is being asked, but during the expert’s response, as long as that response is more than just a few words.

It is certainly more challenging, but a well-prepared expert can usually find a way to restate his/her opinion, and during that portion of their response, look out to the jurors. Just as the expert will or did during direct.

Practice with your expert! Role-play a few cross examination questions to support your expert’s ability to continue his/her educating-the-jurors function even as the expert is in a more defensive posture.

Eye contact can make all the difference.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Answer a Primordial Question for the Jurors: Who?

The names, acronyms and abbreviations so familiar to you, are not to the jurors. You may think that by saying, for example, “Acme Building Supply, which we’ll now call ABS for convenience” is enough to warrant saying “ABS” through the rest of your trial.

But “ABS” has no guts to it, has no uniqueness, no personality, as it were. As laborious as it may be for you to repeat the full appelation, “Acme Building Supply” has a history. It’s associated with events, persons--it has a life. “ABS” is just another bit of alphabet soup.

Be sure to use full names of persons, entities or objects throughout your trial. Avoid the use of pronouns or abbreviated references. Jurors often have trouble keeping track of who did what to whom. They will be totally lost if they must also concentrate on which "he," "she," or "it" you are now referring to. Certainly, well-known abbreviations are acceptable, but generally speaking, abbreviations used too often only serve to confuse jurors. A confused juror is an unsympathetic juror. An unsympathetic juror is the one who could cause you to lose your case.