Lawyers and courts turn to expert witnesses to provide triers of fact with explanations of aspects of a case that are not commonly known. It is the subject matter expert's education, experience, and skill in a particular area that will help the triers of fact to reach a well-informed conclusion/decision. Examples of expert witnesses include medical doctors, accountants, engineers, DNA scientists, and more. Lawyers (and the courts) will employ an expert witness to shed more light upon factual issues for the purpose of discerning the truth. In short, expert witnesses educate, clarify, and explain a subject that is not common knowledge for most people.
The role of the litigation attorney is to tell a story to the arbiter in such a way to effectively represents the client's position. Often the attorney requires a person with unique expertise to understand and present technical information in a manner that is understandable to the lay person. Attorneys often determine the need for an expert witness after discovery and after depositions have been taken for many of the witnesses. In many cases this is too late for an expert to most effective. My experience as an expert witness has led me to recommend considering the use of an expert at the following times
It may be detrimental to an expert witness's credibility if even the appearance of a lack of independence exists. In today's legal environment, discrediting an expert based on his or her relationship with counsel, the client or the judge is common. Let's examine how to identify an expert's independence.
The employ of expert witnesses in litigation is typically undertaken to help the decider of fact (judge or jury) decipher an area of specialized knowledge which is key to the case. The expert report serves the primary purpose of "educating" deciders of fact on topics not commonly known to the general public. However, a noncomplying expert report can wreak havoc on a case, increase costs or worse, have the expert's testimony precluded in whole or part from use at trial. This of course is contrary to the purpose of retaining an expert in the first place. Understanding the parameters of compliance (C.R.C.P. 26 (a) (2) (B) (I)) and how sanctions for non-compliance (C.R.C.P. 37 (c) (1)) may be applied is important not only for legal counsel but the expert as well under the 2015 rule updates and the recent Colorado Supreme Court case, Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado v. Earl Swensson Associates, Inc.
Now more than ever, it’s important for a land surveyor and lawyer to work as a team. The services of an experienced land surveyor can prevent future expenses or even the undertaking of defending a lawsuit.
The working relationship between the attorney and their expert witness in a case can be more effective if a few simple guidelines are followed. These are common sense things but one or more can be overlooked in the frequent day-to-day rush that busy attorneys face. When that happens some of the potential contributions from the expert may be compromised or lost to the detriment of the attorney's client.
A recent case addressed the interesting question of whether a corporation could serve as an expert witness. The matter involved a breach of fiduciary duty case coordinated with an appraisal proceeding, in re Dole Food Company ("Dole"). The defendants designated Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated ("Stifel"), a corporation, to serve as their expert witness regarding the value of Dole.
At first blush you may think that this article is about a small, albeit ugly armored animal and you would be justified in doing so. After all, the name Armadillo Partners conjures up a mental image of a corporate holding of armadillos, presumably for sale. Such would not be the case however. In fact, this article is about an arbor area and trees located at a shopping center called Armadillo Square in Broward County, Florida.