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Anatomy of a Civil Trial


are on behalf of plaintiffs, ask him to give you a percentage breakdown on cases in Maryland as opposed to those outside of the state. You will find that a number of experts testified exclusively for defendants in the areas where they live and work and occasionally testify on behalf of plaintiffs in other states. You will want to know how much money the expert is


charging for his expert testimony, how much he has been paid to date and how much work he believes he needs to do before trial. Don't be afraid to ask the expert how much money he makes per year in his expert capacity. I like to ask an expert what is the highest amount that he has earned doing expert work in the previous 10 years. Don't let him get away with telling you that he doesn't know, or that his office manager keeps the books, or that he doesn't keep track of it. Our friends at the IRS make it pretty difficult for expert witnesses to reasonably contend that they don't know how much they have made in their forensic activities. Ask the expert witness to obtain from his office manager or accountant the information you have requested. Finally, always make sure that you lock down the expert


to his opinions. Never leave a discovery deposition of an expert without asking the witness whether or not you have elicited all of his expert opinions in the case. Don't let a defense lawyer


stop you from doing so by making ridiculous objections, the most frequent of which is that the defense lawyer might ask questions in a different way at trial. Of course they will. Having said that, you are entitled to know each and every opinion that the expert intends to offer at trial. Don't walk away from the deposition until you have all of those opinions.


Putting It All Together Now that you have done your homework in the case, you


are ready to do serious damage to defendant's expert at trial. Let's briefly look at some common means of attacking and neutralizing a defense expert.


Financials Everybody loves to think that the most effective way of


cross examining an expert witness is by revealing to the jury that the expert makes a lot of money testifying. I'm not totally convinced. Unless you have an expert witness who is making an extreme fortune as an expert witness, I think that financials have limited impact on the jury. Certainly, if the expert is making more than $500,000 a year testifying on behalf of defendants, he is subject to a pretty potent financials attack. On the other hand, my experience in talking to jurors after


Trial Reporter / Spring 2012 31


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