How is an expert witness decided on for a court case? As a licensed private investigative agency, we’ve testified as expert witnesses in many court cases and our reports have been used as expert witness testimony in cases at the federal level, state level, and local level. The reason for an expert witness is to back up evidence provided by one of the parties. Whether you’re a plaintiff or defendant, if you have evidence to be presented in court, you want to have your evidence certified verified, and made clear and validated by an expert witness. 

An expert witness is somebody who is certified by the court as an expert in a particular field. So how does this work? Who decides who’s an expert? Who verifies an expert? What do you have to do to be an expert witness? Well, it’s done by the party who is presenting the evidence. If you’re a party presenting a document for example, and you want to verify the authenticity of that document. You may hire an expert witness who is an expert at authenticating documents and signatures. If you want to have some computer evidence or some data brought in, you want to have somebody who comes in as a computer expert that testifies that this data is accurate, that it’s correct, or that it was obtained in a certain way. The expert is there to provide testimony, support evidence, opinions, and facts about a case. When that expert is presented as an expert witness, they will first be certified by the judge and the party presenting the expert witness will notify the court that they’re intending to bring in this expert. They have to provide their credentials and they have to have what’s called the CV curriculum vitae, which says here is what my experience is. Here’s what my expertise is, and here’s why I’m an expert

We’re an expert in many things, but we won’t come in to be an expert at brain surgery because we’re not brain surgeons. So just because we’re an expert witness in one area it doesn’t mean we can be an expert witness at everything. For example when we testify in court, one of the cases we did had to do with real estate records, and forensics on documents for real estate. The attorney representing the client presented evidence presented documents and they said, this agency [Active Intel] is going to testify as an expert witness as to what these documents are, what they mean, and what the standard of care is for these documents. The judge then asked the other side do they have any objection to this. The other side can object. They can say no they’re not an expert, they don’t know what they’re talking about. The judge will make a determination of whether or not that expert witness is allowed to testify in court. 

In addition, the expert has to have credibility. They have to have experience or knowledge in that area that’s provable to the satisfaction of the court. On top of that, what they’re testifying about has to matter to the court. We had a case where we were offered as an expert witness to a court about a subject that had to do documents and data. We’ve testified as expert witnesses on the exact same subject many times in the past. But in this case, the data didn’t actually matter to the case. So the other side objected saying, they [Active Intel] may be an expert, but this expert witness testimony is not relevant to the case. So that evidence was excluded.

There are many reasons why an expert witness can be accepted by the court. There are many reasons why they can be rejected. You could be an expert witness about anything. If you are a professional landscaper let’s say for example, and there’s some question about a contract of some pest or disease on somebody’s lawn that’s killing the grass and somebody sues somebody over the fact that they have to spend $5,000 to put in a new lawn, the attorney could hire you as an expert witness. You don’t have to have any certification, you don’t have to have a college degree. As long as you have the requisite knowledge and experience in a field, you could be certified as an expert. It doesn’t mean it’s automatic, but that it could happen. The party bringing you forward is gonna want to make sure that they’re bringing somebody that’s going to be articulate in court know how to testify, know how to answer questions, and also have a background that is bulletproof. You don’t want to bring somebody in court that has major credibility problems where they don’t have the authenticity to be believed in court. Their credibility can be challenged. So it’s about the knowledge, it’s about the credibility, and it’s also about the relevancy to that case. If you’re in a case with evidence that’s backed up by an expert witness, that evidence can be made more powerful to the judge or even to a jury, if a jury is making a decision. There are two parties that each has that support their side, but one party has an expert witness to say yes, this evidence is valid, this is what it means.

As an expert witness, there’s a lot of authority that you have to help evidence become more understandable to a jury or to a judge or even to have more weight, put onto one particular argument versus another. So if you’re a plaintiff or defendant in a case that’s how an expert witness can help you. If you are somebody who wishes to be an expert witness think about what field you’re in, how you could help different cases, and put your name out there to become visible to attorneys. Obviously, if you’re an attorney you know about expert witnesses, but the other thing you want to do is if you have an expert witness on the other side, don’t be afraid to perform due diligence on that expert witness. As an investigative agency, we have performed investigations on the background of expert witnesses of the other side and found that they had prior convictions for larceny, money laundering, fraud, and for other types of crimes that would make their testimony not as believable. So, if you’re an attorney, think about expert witnesses and what’s going to help you but also don’t be afraid to look at the other side’s experts to see if you can impeach them or defeat them and keep them out of court, to begin with. Or maybe even let it go to the last minute and then right at the point of their testimony, doing something to mitigate it or diminish it so it doesn’t hurt your parties in your client’s case.

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