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Why It’s Essential to Research Your Expert Witness’s Litigation History

Often, your top choices for expert witnesses come to your case with experience testifying in similar cases or on related issues. While their experience can make it easier to integrate them into your own case, it can also present pitfalls if not adequately researched.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on February 2, 2023

Why It’s Essential to Research Your Expert Witness’s Litigation History

Common Mistakes in Expert Witness Research

Omitted or perfunctory research can often be prevented by accounting for the most common reasons it occurs. Proper preparation can ensure your team has the time and resources necessary to check your expert’s background thoroughly.

One of the most common reasons expert witness research is skipped is that the expert selection process is postponed until the last minute. Pressed for time, an attorney or legal team might choose the first expert that looks “good enough,” failing to consider the nuances of the expert’s background—to the detriment of their case.

Similarly, delegating responsibility for expert witness selection to someone unfamiliar with the case may lead to poor results. The person who chooses the expert may not know what information to seek or how to evaluate it.

Finally, sourcing experts can present problems. The purpose of the expert witness is to provide insight into topics outside a lay person’s knowledge base. As such, when it comes to choosing the right expert, attorneys may find that they don’t know what they don’t know. In this case, working with an expert witness service can help ensure your candidates are suited for the demands of the case at hand.

Points to Consider During Research

Even when you plan ahead, the time you have to research expert witnesses is limited. Focusing on a handful of key points during research can simultaneously alert you to potential angles of attack from opposing counsel and suggest the most effective means of countering these arguments while consistently portraying your expert witness as a trustworthy source of specialized information.

Plaintiff or Defense?

Expert witnesses with previous experience in court will have likely appeared on behalf of the plaintiff, defendant, or both on different occasions. Examining their appearances and the scope of the expert’s participation during each can reveal patterns that help you build a case in favor of your expert or defend the expert against attacks by opposing counsel.

For example, if your expert witness primarily testifies for plaintiffs in product liability cases (and you’re asking them to do so again), opposing counsel might attempt to paint your expert as a “hired gun” whose interest is in launching unjustified claims against hapless defendants. If your expert’s background is split more or less evenly between plaintiffs and defendants, you may wish to highlight this fact as evidence that your expert adheres to the facts and science involved rather than to any particular side’s view of similar cases.

Daubert/Frye Challenges Your Expert Has Faced

Challenges to an expert witness’ reports or testimony in past cases can provide a wealth of information on how best to present the witness and their work in your current case. They can also present a major hurdle if the opposing counsel is more familiar with them than you are.

In addition to talking to the potential expert about their experience with Daubert or Frye challenges, you should also look up cases in which the expert witness was deemed both qualified and unqualified. The arguments and decisions in these cases can help illuminate potential areas of contention and suggest a path through them. For opposing counsel, they may suggest angles of attack.

Looking into an expert’s full litigation history can be a time-consuming task though. The quickest way to get your hands on this research is through Expert Radar. Expert Radar provides a comprehensive background report on any expert witness’s professional standing, legal involvement, and media presence. If the expert has been challenged, that information will be available along with real-time alerts if a new Daubert or Frye challenge occurs.

The sooner the expert witness’s prior participation in Daubert or Frye challenges is examined, the more time your team has to prepare effective arguments in favor of admitting your expert’s opinions.

What Do Their Publications Say?

Many experts include a complete list of their published works in their CV. Library databases, medical databases, and even print book databases, like WorldCat, can all help your team locate previous publications by your potential expert as well.

Leafing through your expert’s publications can help you determine whether the expert has published on topics, methods, or issues related to their testimony in your case. It can also help you evaluate the effect their prior works may have on their current participation.

For example, an expert whose previous work tends to support the conclusions he or she is drawing in your case may be able to build connections between that work and this conclusion for the judge and jury. This can further strengthen the argument that their methods are appropriate and correct.

By contrast, an expert who has come to contradictory conclusions in prior publications needs to be prepared to discuss the discrepancies between that work and this conclusion—or risk having their own testimony undermined by opposing counsel.

Essential Insights All in One Place

Expert Radar helps attorneys get a winning edge in the courtroom with extensive background data and real-time intelligence on any expert. With this AI-powered expert vetting solution, you get access to data you can’t find with a Google search. Review information about an expert’s professional history including licenses and certifications, education and training, and any memberships and affiliations.

If you want to review an expert’s litigation activity, a new feature to Expert Radar, Litigation Analytics, offers a visual snapshot of an expert’s case history. With Litigation Analytics, you can easily pinpoint vulnerabilities in an expert’s credibility, qualifications, or methodology.  You can also explore critical expert data and gain strategic insights on an expert’s party preference, the reasoning behind prior challenges, the expert’s challenge outcomes, and more.

Researching your expert is integral to your case preparation. However, it takes time to find everything that could potentially impact the credibility of your expert. Fortunately, Expert Radar can save you time researching so you can focus on your case preparation.

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