Expert Testimony: A Guide for Expert Witnesses and the Lawyers Who Examine Them

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9781556815959: Expert Testimony: A Guide for Expert Witnesses and the Lawyers Who Examine Them

In Expert Testimony, Steven Lubet provides experts with the knowledge they need for effective courtroom communication. Through his discussion of preparation, depositions, direct and cross-examination, and other components of the trial process, Lubet teaches expert witnesses how to make sure they "get to say what they really mean" while avoiding the traps and snares that may be set by opposing counsel. By analyzing and demystifying every aspect of opinion testimony, Lubet has created a work that is invaluable to both witnesses and lawyers.

Lubet describes the many variables that affect the perceived credibility of an expert witness, including rapport, reporting bias, knowledge bias, appearance, and demeanor. He explains the ways that experts can emphasize their credibility and, perhaps more importantly, how they can avoid the unintentional signals that may actually undermine the acceptance of their opinions. He then examines witness preparation, focusing on the relationship between retaining counsel and the expert witness in the critical areas of issue identification, data development, and presentation. The chapter on direct examination addresses the need for every expert to develop a "theory," or a short summary that explains, in everyday language, why the expert's approach is accurate and believable. Using compelling examples, Lubet clearly shows that without such a theory direct examination can easily dissolve into a welter of meaningless details.

Cross-examination lies at the heart of Expert Testimony, which devotes three full chapters to the subject. After describing the process and structure of the cross-examination, Lubet explains every lawyer's four basic goals on cross-examination: control the answers, tell counsel's story, minimize the expert's impact, and limit the expert's input. Equipped with this information, witnesses will better understand how and when they can take advantage of opportunities to explain their testimony, no matter how hard a cross-examiner may try to restrict their answers. Lubet provides a guide to the seven most common cross-examination techniques and exposes the six most frequently encountered "trick questions." The book concludes with the first-ever comprehensive analysis of issues pertaining to expert witness.

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Review:

"Lubet achieves three objectives in this book. First, he seamlessly integrates legal standards affecting expert witnesses into the general text. Second, he translates psychological principles relating to witness credibility and testimony in discussions more accessible and meaningful than in any writings I have seen by psychologists. Third, he writes with a remarkable clarity that should be the envy of other authors of professional books." -- Stanley L. Brodsky, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, The University of Alabama

"Lubet is a master at leading one through complex material.... He provides clear information about testifying, and he bolsters the information with good examples." -- Trial

"Lubet's is indeed the thinking person's approach to witness examination and testimony, a framework for the conscientious prosecutor to evaluate what he or she is asking and how well the questions, whether on direct or cross exam, will aid in the task of persuasion.... Expert Testimony can help witnesses, be they forensic pathologists, DNA specialists, psychologists or police officers, communicate more effectively and it can help prosecutors re-think the way they prepare and examine their experts." -- The Prosecutor, a publication of the National District Attorneys Association

"My prediction? Expert Testimony will become the Bible for all experts--be they neophytes or seasoned--who truly want to be understood and trusted by our modern jurors. Indeed, experts (and lawyers) will benefit greatly from Professor Lubet's concise yet thorough and accurate portrayal of exactly what jurors, lawyers, and judges expect from experts and what experts can expect from the time of retention to when he or she walks off the witness stand." -- Thomas A. Demetrio, attorney and partner with the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio

"These chapters are written in easy to understand English, with minimal jargon, except in situations where it is necessary. The reader should not be intimidated by the use of such terms. Indeed, if one is to become comfortable working as an expert, one needs to become familiar with terms which are an inherent part of the legal environment.... As a whole, this book makes a fine contribution....with its emphasis on the processes and procedures involved in serving as an expert witness." -- Journal of Forensic Neuropsychology

"This concise, well-organized book covers witness credibility, preparation, direct and cross-examination, depositions, discovery and ethics. Lubet's chapters on cross-examination and deposition testimony are especially helpful in preparing an expert to withstand an assault by the other side's lawyer." -- Lawyers Weekly USA

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