Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Establishing Expert Independence

Establishing an expert's objectivity is critical not only in concrete ways but in others' perception of it. In an article in The Chattanoogan, Mike Costello addresses this issue:
Experts may never seem totally independent because they are being paid for their services. But, the apparent lack of independence may be nothing more than the appearance of a relationship between parties, even though no relationship exists.

As we always stress, you are NOT an advocate - that is the attorney's job but this is a good reminder that fact and appearance are two different concepts in the courtroom. Opposing counsel's job is to discredit your testimony, and as Mr. Costello writes:
The attempt to impeach an expert because of relationships with counsel or the client, the amount of fees charged, or contingent fee arrangements is common in today's legal environment.

Also in this article are tips to establishing independence that include not altering your billing rate and practices for different client-attorneys, keeping a balance of plaintiff and defendant work, and discussing any potential 'gray areas' upfront with counsel at the very beginning.

Good advice and a reminder that just because WE know something to be true and done with integrity doesn't guarantee that it appears that way or that it can't be made to appear otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are no perfect cases. I have found that conceding a point in cross-examination lends credibility to my testimony as I am not advocating for my client.