Traveling with a Newbie Expert (2)
And here we are, one week later and hopefully I haven’t lost the three people who read this Blog last week. Hooray! Victory!
When last I wrote we were on the verge of putting all of the research that was completed together and to start writing the Expert Witness Report. So…..now is when I would expect you to ask, “What does that look like Andy??” Well, read on…...
It is absolutely true that Expert Witness reports come in all shapes and sizes. After having read my share of other people’s reports I have discovered that the more letters a person has after their name the shorter the report unless they are in Social Services. Social Service experts will reproduce War and Peace and try to add Anna Karenina on the back end if they believe it will support their position. (Note the Russian references – so current!)
As a newbie to the field, the first few reports I constructed were very lengthy as well (clearly, I am exposing my own background in social services!). However, over time I figured out how to narrow my focus to just the key elements, the source of which can be found in the following places:
First, turn to your attorney. From the time you are solicited for your opinion, the attorney will help to acclimate you to the case and their reasons for seeking your particular set of skills. These conversations are critical to understanding not only the facts of the case but also some of the initial hurdles.
The second source is the Complaint document itself. This is probably the first document you will receive and is key to understanding what the Plaintiff’s attorney believes your client has done wrong. Focus on parts of the complaint that you (and all your experience) are required to address. Read this document carefully!
The third and a critical source of information for your report is located in the depositions of the parties. This is often one of the most painful tasks for an Expert Witness because the sheer number of depositions coupled with the length of each deposition is directly associated with the well known syndrome Expert Witness Hari Kari. All joking aside, this is the area where many Experts make their biggest mistakes.
Fourth in line are the other Expert Witness reports in the case. Read carefully what these folks have said, and if they can be refuted then take your best shot!
Fifth and last are all of the rules, regulations and policies you identified in your research. What rules were broken? Which support your client? It sounds simplistic, but what you are focused on can generally fall into one of three categories:
What did they do?
What were they required to do?
What did they say they were going to do?
Next week we’ll take a closer look at reading depositions and why this can become the hill on which many Experts die…..figuratively speaking of course!