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Brown, Janet. Expert testimony: pitfalls and privileges. National Fire & Arson Report. Vol. 16, No. 4 (December 1997).

Abstract: This article discusses what is involved with testifying as an expert witness. It reviews what are the qualifications that can be used to be qualified as an expert witness. The article then goes into what the term "expert" means within the legal environment. The Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702, provides guidance on the criteria: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier-of-fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise."

Some tips regarding tactic and control in the courtroom while testifying are reviewed. These include issues such as leading questions, hypotheticals, voice inflection, eye contact, impingement on "space", freedom of movement, attempts at embarrassment, discourtesy, sarcasm, and use of terminology.

Other tips regarding how to answer questions, demeanor, etc. are also covered.

Depositions are also discussed. Depositions are situations where the investigator is interviewed with attorneys from the various interests present, but there is no judge to rule in these situations. It is just as necessary to be prepared for a deposition as it is for a trial, because the deposition can be entered into evidence during the trial.

A number of questions to establish the investigators qualifications can be asked, including certifications, experience, education and training, prior testimony, memberships, publications and presentations, research activities, and job duties.

The article then turns to the questions that might be asked regarding the scene investigations and subsequent actions.

Going to trial is then covered. Tips are offered on how to prepare for testimony and how to answer questions. Demeanor, candor and competence are important aspects of testifying.

In conclusion the author offers 10 tips for testimony.

 
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