Expert Witnesses - Testimony for Money
Watch CSI, Law and Order and the other police dramas on television and you'll never really see an expert testify in a case. In truth, expert witnesses often play a critical part in the outcome of trials.
Nothing is simple these days and the same thing goes for trials. At first glance, a trial is just two parties arguing about different viewpoints of facts as they apply to a law. The problem, of course, is what happens when things get complex.
Expert witnesses play a subtle, but important role in litigation. They are used to explain the complex issues that arise in such a way as to make the information understandable to the average person sitting in a jury. Let's take a closer look.
Imagine we are in a trial involving a medical malpractice claim. Is a jury going to understand the steps of a surgical procedure? Not a chance. Experts will be needed to testify what normally happens and if it did in this case.
Criminal cases are where experts really come to the forefront. Testimony regarding evidence chain of custody and tests are customary. As we've seen on television, DNA evidence is where cases are made or broken.
Does expert witness testimony always prevail in lawsuits? No. One of the strategies commonly used is to nullify the impact of experts by having other experts testify against them. There is a rather famous case where this worked.
The Simpson criminal trial for double homicide gripped the nation. Prosecution experts testified the defendant's DNA was on evidence. Defense experts claimed it was dubious. The gloves were too tight and the jurors said not guilty.
As the Simpson case shows, many lawsuits can end up as a battle of the experts. This really contradicts the purpose of experts wherein they are supposed to be helping the jury understand something instead of further clouding the issue.
At the end of the day, the expert witness is still an important player in the lawsuit process. Testimony prior to trial can even lead to resolutions early on. If it doesn't, jurors are still smart enough to figure out what is going on.
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