How to Control an Expert Witness

As with all witnesses, you must be able to control an expert witness during cross-examination. But many experts with experience in testifying treat cross-examiners like presidential candidates deal with the press: they ignore the question asked and answer the question they prefer. Here’s how to keep experts under your control. If you’ve got an evasive expert, start by getting the court on your side. Make sure the court sees what’s going on by, if necessary, repeating the question until the witness’s evasion is obvious, then by asking the court to direct the witness to answer. Another way to call attention to the witness’s evasion is asking: Q. Did you understand my last question? Q. Are you willing to answer it? Remember that the objection that an answer is nonresponsive is designed for the examiner when facing an evasive witness. And Evidence Code §766 requires a trial judge to strike a nonresponsive answer if a party so moves. If…

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