10 Things: The FHO Expert Witness Bill of Rights

I am consulting on a couple cases right now, so testimony is on my mind. Today I am going to post my Expert Witness’ Bill of Rights. By all means, please do add to this if you come up with any I have missed. Also remember, this is opinion and opinion only. Just because I think it’s true doesn’t mean you will agree, or that the attorneys you work with will care what I think (in fact I’d say it’s a solid bet that they won’t). So, with all those caveats, here are what I consider to be essential considerations for taking on the role of expert witness:

  1. You have the right to be paid for your work.
  2. You have the right to be prepped in advance of your testimony
  3. You have the right to ask questions about the case.
  4. You have the right to work for either side, without fear of retribution.
  5. You have the right to change your opinion from previous testimony, as long as your opinion is evolving (based on science and/or experience) rather than revolving (based on which side you’re working for).
  6. You have the right to say “I don’t know”, if you, in fact, don’t know. Just because you’re the expert doesn’t mean you have all the answers. See also: “I’m sorry, that’s outside my scope of practice”.
  7. You have the right to solicit objective feedback about your testimony from the attorney who has called you (and of course, they have the right to decline to give it, but that’s a different list).
  8. You have the right to set limits with counsel about the scope of your testimony.
  9. You have the right to disagree with another expert’s practices or conclusions, even when you perceive that expert to be: a.) more educated; b.) more famous; or c.) more experienced.
  10. You have the right to disregard the initial instinct to view opposing counsel’s expert as the enemy, but instead recognize everyone’s role in the process and share pizza and a bottle of wine with that expert after trial is over.

1 reply on “10 Things: The FHO Expert Witness Bill of Rights”

Good job and I think there should be more on the issue of ethical issue of common justice. The right to tell clients when you think they are not being honest or your own sense of justice is violated. We should not offer our services to be bought. I say to people you buy my time and experts not my opinion.

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