Bill Langer Research Geologist LLC Home Experience Expertise Contact
My thoughts on an expert witness The most visible role of a scientific expert witness is the few hours of presentation to an audience that typically has no background in science. During the presentation the technical expert must use simple terms to develop complex ideas, give reasons for the conclusions, and synthesize all the findings. As brief as it may be, the final presentation probably will be proceeded by weeks or months of intensive preparation including: · Data collection and analysis; · Integration of the expert's findings with those of the client's other experts; · A critical review of the findings of the experts from the other party; and · Preparation of exhibits and testimony.  
The expert should have good communication skills because the most important part of the assignment is in the final presentation, frequently to a non-technical audience. The expert must maintain professional integrity throughout the entire process, from preparation to the final testimony.  Equally important, the client and his or her legal counsel must respect this position.  If the expert presents testimony he or she does not firmly believe in, it will probably be borne out under cross-examination, to the disadvantage of the client.
Although much of the credibility of a scientific expert witness is based on courtroom posture, the expert must have a variety of talents to be effective. Important, sometimes overriding, prerequisites are professional expertise with the technical aspects, and/or familiarity with, the geographic area of the case. Alternatively, there may be a need for a broad background of experience in analogous areas but not necessarily for the specific properties involved. The witness may be chosen because of his or her highly-recognized professional background, prestige in the industry, and wide exposure through publications.