Defending a client in court or prosecuting a criminal is no easy task. The smallest things can throw off an entire case and change the verdict of a trial. This is no different when it comes to forensic expert witness
services. If a forensic expert witness performs poorly in front of a jury, it could mean an innocent person goes to jail or a criminal is set free.
For this reason, it is wise to be aware of the things that can go wrong with forensic witness testimony. To help, here is a short list of certain problems that should be avoided at all cost.
The Expert Witness Cannot Properly Communicate with the Jury
Sometimes, scientists and medical experts only discuss the science in their field of study with other experts. While this may be fine when it comes to communication with peers, the jury will more than likely be filled with people that are completely unfamiliar with forensic science.
This means that a forensic expert must be able to explain the science behind his or her testimony in a way that the jury can comprehend. If the expert does not make an effort to properly communicate his or her scientific opinions in a way the jury can understand, the testimony will be worthless.
The Expert Witness Displays Improper Emotion
Another common mistake occurs when a forensic expert witness’s emotions or temperament goes over poorly with a jury. There are many ways this can happen. One common example is due to the fact that forensic experts deal with death, bodies and murders on a daily basis. If the forensic expert appears giddy to be giving testimony debunking the prosecution’s theories about a grisly murder, this lack of sympathy for the victim and his or her family could enrage the jury.
Similarly, showing negative emotions can also go over very poorly. Sometimes, a lawyer for the other side may get under an expert’s skin. If this occurs, that forensic expert witness may become agitated or angry. This is almost always looked down upon by the jury. If the expert is confident in his or her opinions, the jury generally assumes that expert should have no problem answering additional questions during cross examination.
Cross Examination Shoots Holes in the Witness’s Testimony
Forensic witness testimony can be disastrous if it does not survive cross examination. This is why proper vetting and preparation should be conducted with a forensic expert witness well before the witness takes the stand.
For example, the lawyer for the other side may get the expert to admit there are certain big exceptions to the theories that expert was hired to support in the first place. This is why every single possible line of questioning should be discussed beforehand.
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