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The Champion

January-February 2012 , Page 30 

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Cross-Examining The Expert Witness: Do’s and Don’ts and An Occasional Maybe

By Dorothy Clay Sims

What factors make people believe one expert witness over another? People ask several questions when deciding if they are going to trust an expert.1 

Does the expert witness look and sound smart?  

Does the expert not lose her cool when cross-examined? 

Does the expert witness talk too much about irrelevant material? 

Does the witness answer questions directly? 

Does the expert admit when he is wrong?  

Rarely does the question relate to whether the expert’s opinion or science is sound. Instead, people are inclined to focus on how the expert comes across. Is she smooth? Is she polished? If so, then she must be good — or perhaps she is a sociopath. A sociopath, among other things, tends to (1) have a disregard for the truth; (2) lack concern for society’s rules (i.e., do not over-bill, do not commit perjury); (3) be manipulative; and (4) be personable, charming, and have an above average IQ. The frightening thing is that the more sociopathic an e

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