Thursday, June 07, 2007

How Do You Come Across on the Stand?

Do you know how you come across in deposition or courtroom testimony? Do you REALLY know? Steven Mikulan wrote a great article in LA Weekly about one expert's testimony in the Phil Spector murder trial.

Mikulan highlights the positive aspects of Dr. Louis Pena's testimony in reporting how "unbelievably believable","unruffled", and "downright helpful" he was, especially his skill in "breaking down esoteric subjects into homey analogies that everyone could understand.

Mikulan also points out Dr. Pena's he little 'tic' - "a nervous habit of pulling up one of his socks while on the witness stand," and describes how the cross-examination employed a common tactic of trying to force an expert to disprove a negative.

Let me know if it gives you any insight into your own habits and communication skills.

2 comments:

Dr. Shmuel said...

Academic experts who opine faithfully projecting their working knowledge have an advantage as relatively good presentators, highly knowledgeable of the subject matter and a habit of appearing before audiences.

On the stand (or in deposition), I am relaxed, comfortable, adamant answering questions that are fully clear only and demanding clarification otherwise.

Generally, opining truthfully and avoiding vagueness projects every expert testimony much better.

Another crucial element is simplicity. As I constantly remind my students, "if you cannot explain your work to a lay person, your work is far from done."

Rosalie Hamilton said...

I couldn't agree more, Dr. Shmuel. What comes to my mind is the old adage about becoming able to explain it to your grandmother. Despite the relative sophistication of today's grandmothers (HA), it is a good reminder that not only must the expert be able to explain his work to a lay person but perhaps additionally to lay people (jurors) who are of a different (read "less technical") generation.
Rosalie Hamilton