When Should You Hire a Local Expert Witness?


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Local expert witnesses are necessary based on the claim, the state and the specific location of the legal issue that is being dealt with through a lawyer. Hiring a local expert is essential in certain situations where the requisite experience, trainings, scope and education all revolve around the area where the claim is taking place.

When a claim deals with something local such as a particular employee or company that does not exist elsewhere, a local expert witness is the right fit over another that could have greater education or qualifications in other areas. Due to the unique circumstances and regional knowledge needed, the local professionals should be hired to assist with the matter. However, these expert witnesses are still required to meet reliability in methods and standards as well as have a relevance in knowledge and skills. If the expert does not possess the qualities needed, he or she may be disqualified by the judge, and his or her expertise is no longer admissible.

When a claim relies on a certain jurisdiction, a local jury panel or judge is used for the courtroom case. A local expert witness that is liked, understood and relied upon has a greater chance of explaining a situation and unraveling confusing issues. Whether he or she is used for the defending or plaintiff party, his or her testimony is given greater weight than another expert from outside the area in usual situations. When the expert is familiar to the judge or jury members, he or she is better able to communicate the issue and connect evidence. The matter is given more attention due to the familiar and local aspects.

Hiring a Local Expert Witness

When a small-town jury selected in the immediate area where the incident occurred is judging the proceedings, it is better to choose someone familiar or that has less cultured air and mannerisms. Even if the location is close to a city, it is often better to choose an expert in the community hospital rather than the big city medical center. While one may have more education and experience, the other is more versed with these jury members and would be trusted. More confidence is placed in local community members than those in larger areas. While this could be considered juror bias, it is often beneficial to consider these matters closely.

Sophistication is another factor that may alter which expert to hire. If a local medical professional is cleverer in his or her vocabulary and turn of phrase, this could endear or repel the jury. If the local area is a large city, the doctor that lives in his or her three-piece suit is better matched to present testimony. A computer expert that speaks his or her mind may have an off-putting manner in contrast to one that is stand-offish in ever day situations. The lawyer must understand the jury panel completely in both thought and feel. This could lead to a local expert witness over someone that would present the case better.

The Local Expert Witness

When it appears that a local expert is the better choice based on the case and local jurisdiction, it is important that he or she is aware of all the factors of the claim just as if someone with more education or experience has been hired. Constant and open contact and communication is imperative for a stronger expert witness relationship. The professional may need some coaching if he or she has had little time in the courtroom or is not aware of how to speak to the judge or jury with efficiency and charm. It is better that he or she has confidence in his or her abilities, and this may take more time with the lawyer than someone that has presented testimony and evidence to a court through various cases.

The local expert witness may have an accent from the area, speak with certain stereotypes or in slang or may understand similar aspects from others. While these techniques are not encouraged in the normal courtroom, this may be necessary to charm the judge or jury. These characteristics may also increase familiarity and confidence in the professional. Additionally, if someone from the same state has local area knowledge or understands the culture better, he or she may not step on the toes of the resident populace as someone from another region of the country. This local expert witness is often the smarter choice in these circumstances.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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