Thursday, July 06, 2006

Experts and the Media: Kenneth Lay Expert and Expert Under Cross

Two articles I read this week intrigued me. After the shocking news of Kenneth Lay's death yesterday, Dallas Morning News columnist Cheryl Hall interviewed Dr. Chris Barry, an expert witness in Mr. Lay's criminal trial. (You may have to register to access the article, but it's free) While fascinated by his perspective and opinion of Mr. Lay, I also wondered about the implications of his words appearing in the media.

While being quoted in the media can be a highly effective marketing tool by increasing an expert's visibility and credibility, experts should always remember that everything they say can come back to haunt them. Do you think anything in Dr. Barry's comments would make an attorney less likely to hire him or has the potential to be twisted by opposing counsel to discredit him?

The second article was just fun to read. Sharon Gaudin of Information Week reported on a defense attorney's failure to "rattle" a computer forensics expert. It's worth looking at just for expert Keith Jones' composed responses to the aggressive cross-examination, but my favorite section of questioning was described by Ms. Gaudin like this:

At one point, Adams laid out a scenario in which someone could have created a backdoor in the UBS system, and then deleted it before a backup was done to capture it. When he asked Jones if he, personally, could do such a thing, Jones replied, "I could do a lot of things. That's why I'm hired to do the investigation."

As much as I enjoyed the article, I'll ask you the same question I did about the other article - will this media coverage help or hurt Mr. Jones as an expert?

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