Trial or deposition can be a bloodbath.
An Expert Witness with less than stellar credentials is low hanging fruit in cross-deposition or cross-examination. If a Forensic Psychiatrist or Psychologist’s expert opinions are sullied by questionable or inept practices, due diligence cannot be conducted after the fact.
Prepare, defend, sidestep or exploit weaknesses and maximize the strengths of Experts.
Medico-legal Experts, on any “side” should be prepped to handle any questions you know are going to be raised. After all, you are probably doing the same for the other counsel’s retained expert.
Sloppy reporting, misrepresentation of credentials, even marketing strategies that don’t pass the smell test can discredit testimony.
Let’s dodge the same dangerous waters.
Trial is a bad time to learn your expert lost a malpractice suit
Due diligence includes researching Board sanctions, license suspensions, a dodgy medical school, claims in a report the expert is not qualified to address, even operating on a panel in a defense-weighted insurance IME mill.
Having to file a last-minute Motion in Limine about your expert will take a hit to your trial budget.
Opposing counsel’s failure to file a Motion in Limine might be a boon to your case, if you know it will be a smart move–if you were the filing party.
When I review and research the reports, practices and professional behavior of a forensic psychiatrist or psychologist-or help select such a professional, I watch for vulnerability to challenges and opinions diminished. Attorneys tell me there’s no substitute for the impartial eagle eye for inconsistencies and missteps. I concur. But get someone who knows the industry.
Don’t ignore the expert’s back office: especially billing staff.
Staff of an attorney can make mistakes and so can staff of an Expert Witness. Claims against the Expert of dodgy billing or overcharging–even the impression of such requires a little pre-trial planning. A Forensic Psychiatrist I know had a very large bill. He had more than 20 binders of records to read (4″ binders!). He knew a jury would gasp at his bill and assume he was greedy and his opinion was driven by profit. What did he do? He brought the boxes and boxes of binders into the Courtroom. They sat under a table and served as a subtle but effective visual aide.
Retaining the right expert.
I consult with attorneys to avoid common mistakes, e.g., plaintiff’s counsel retaining plaintiff’s therapist as an Expert Witness; pursuing a psychologist to opine about medication they are unqualified to prescribe. I help find appropriately qualified Experts and make recommendations.
30 years in the trenches in law and forensic psychiatry (not a lawyer or doctor–a case team member). Hard-earned experience is applied to my expertise about the use of an expert witness to effective trial strategy when faced with the forensic opinion of a psychiatrist or psychologist.