This book, co-authored by me, is designed to provide a new perspective on the role of the expert witness, going beyond the legal definition and requirements. For attorneys, it provides insight into finding the right expert for specific cases and preparing an expert for deposition and trial testimony. For consultants and others, it provides a roadmap for serving as an expert witness. For the judiciary, it provides a view to an expert’s approach to an assignment and the nature of the process, the reference materials and personal experience that supports their testimony.
Some History on Expert Witnesses
The use of expert witnesses has been around for a very long time. In their book, Forensic Ethics and the Expert Witness, Philip J. Candilis, Robert Weinstock, and Richard Martinez write, “The forensic expert practice is an ancient profession. For example, in ancient Babylonia, midwives were used as experts in determining pregnancy, virginity, and female fertility. Similarly, the Roman Empire recognized midwives, handwriting experts, and land surveyors as legal experts.” Ancient Babylonia, for those who aren’t history buffs, is tagged to be around 1800 BC, or 3800 years ago. (3)
Since ancient times (but still not very recently) and most certainly closer to home, the “… codified use of expert witnesses and the admissibility of their testimony and scientific evidence has developed significantly in the Western court system over the last 250 years. The concept of allowing an expert witness to testify in a court setting and provide opinionated evidence on the facts of other witnesses was first introduced by Lord Mansfield in the case of Folkes v. Chadd in 1782.” (4)
Use of expert witnesses did notstart gaining traction in the US until the 1920s. In an early case, psychologists gave testimony pertaining to whether a cola trademark would cause confusion for customers. Also, in the early 20th century, physicians were called as experts in criminal cases. (5)
In this book, as we have said, we are discussing expert testimony in the context of compensation because our expertise and our experience as expert witnesses all revolve around compensation-related issues. Nevertheless, we believe most. if not all. of the lessons learned from our experiences are equally applicable to expert witnesses who may be testifying on entirely different and unrelated matters.