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Tips for Communicating With an Expert Witness

If you are a litigator, you know that oftentimes the testimony of an expert witness can make or break a case. Conducting diligent research and you have completed vetting the expert is only half of the equation. If you want to facilitate the best and most effective expert witness testimony, your communication with the expert from the initial engagement letter through the end of trial is critical, according to the Expert Institute.

 

Below are some best practices when it comes to your expert witness to make sure your case goes smoothly.

 

  • Agreements: make sure your retainer agreement or engagement letter is comprehensive and thorough, as it will lay the foundation for your relationship with your expert witness. This should include all important terms, separated in easy-to-read provisions, with clearly stated services to be performed as well as the general preparation that is expected and types of materials to be reviewed. The fee provision should have a concise breakdown of the expert’s fees, the method of payment, and how expenses will be compensated.
  • Conflicts and disqualifications: if your expert was previously disqualified from offering an expert opinion in court, you should find out and discuss the context and background of this disqualification immediately. Depending on the details, the expert may not be useful to your case. Other disqualifications may be due to conflicts of interest. In these scenarios, a two-part test is used by the court to decide whether or not an expert witness should be disqualified.
  • Provide all necessary materials: in order for an expert witness to provide a fully formed opinion, he or she must be provided with all necessary file materials for review. There may be particular procedural rules and regulations governing the distribution of the case file; likewise avoid needlessly producing confidential information as this will be discoverable by the opposing party;
  • Beware written communications: federal courts require expert witnesses to provide a written report under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). There is a similar rule, Rule 16, in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. If your case is in federal court, or in state court where the jurisdiction adopts similar rules, mostly all written communications are discoverable. This means emails, notes, and drafts. Accordingly, both the attorney and expert witness must be mindful of written communications;
  • Preparation is key: even if the expert witness has extensive experience testifying in court, direct and cross-examinations should not be overlooked. Thoroughly discuss any weaknesses in the expert witness’s opinion in preparation. Also, prepare a general outline for direction examination and flag the major points you want addressed.

 

Consistent and clear communication between the attorney and an expert witness is critical to increasing the likelihood of success in a criminal or civil lawsuit. The above tips should help you solidify your case and obtain a good result for your client.

Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting’s employees voted it to the No. 1 position in the medium employer category!

On Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting’s website, under “Court Reporters Wanted: Full-time, Part-Time, Flex-Time,” there is a list of employee benefits: health insurance, dental insurance, 401k, and “the best support staff in the world.”

In addition to its team of court reporters, EGCR, founded by former court reporter Elizabeth Gallo in 2006, also operates separate scheduling, billing and production departments. The aim is “to take as much of the prep work off of the court reporter before the deposition so the court reporter isn’t bogged down,” explained Miranda Troy, vice president of people and operations at EGCR.

Troy started working at EGCR on July 1, 2020. In doing her research on the company before committing to her new position, Troy, who has worked at much larger companies, including Delta Air Lines Inc., Cox Automotive Inc. and The North Highland Co., was impressed with what she calls EGCR’s “boutique reputation.” It’s not just about providing a transcript, Troy explained. It’s about “giving great customer service,” she said. That’s due, in large part, to the support staff, she added. “They’re very devoted and they want to do a good job.”

That might be why, for the last several years, one of EGCR’s long-time employees, Gala Reznick, a court reporter, has led the charge to nominate the firm as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle Best Places to Work. This year, EGCR comes in at No. 1 in the medium employer category.

“I am treated like a human, not a number, and I feel respected and listened to,” wrote an EGCR employee in the Best Places to Work survey. “I feel that the company and the owner understand that happy employees make for a happier, better running, and more motivated company. Since I know how much I am valued and everything the company does for me, I am happy to go above and beyond whenever needed.”

dejuan-300x224 Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting's employees voted it to the No. 1 position in the medium employer category!

Thank You!

While the world is going through this difficult time dealing with COVID-19, we wanted to take a moment to thank our clients for their continued support.  We really appreciate you!

Remote Depositions: The New Normal Due To COVID-19

Remote depositions are becoming the new normal for the legal profession amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  One common concern from attorneys is can the witness be sworn in remotely.  The Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(4) and similar state rules, such as O.C.G.A. § 9-11-30(4) authorize remote depositions by stipulation of the parties or court order.

Following Governor Brian Kemp’s declaration of a state health emergency in Georgia, Justice Melton issued a statewide judicial emergency limiting court functions and suspended or otherwise granted relief from a number of statutory judicial deadlines.

Currently the order will remain in effect until April 13, 2020.  During this time, EGCR is waiving any web or videoconferencing fees as long as EGCR is not required to provide a location or equipment outside of EGCR’s facility.  Standard deposition rates will apply.

Our team is working diligently to prepare our staff and our clients for the best experience possible.  Below are some helpful links.

Schedule your deposition

View the remote deposition checklist

Upload Exhibits

We urge our clients if they run into a situation that is unique, to call or email our office so we can provide a solution.

We also have a comprehensive YouTube tutorial on web depositions, along with other tutorials.

We believe remote depositions will continue to be relevant in the future for situations relating to weather.  Georgia can shut down for a week at a time due to weather.  You no longer have to.

While, during this crisis, the EGCR and Ancillary teams are working remotely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are still available to answer your questions or concerns.