The Expert Blog
Jason D Koontz, CRC Opinions for All
Expert witnesses bring a sense of objectivity to court proceedings that bears much influence on the outcome of the case.
Therefore, lawyers should pay special attention to their expert witnesses and help them prepare for trial, so the judge and jury will understand and rely upon the expert’s testimony.
However, there’s a difference between expert witness preparation and coaching, and it’s critical to understand the difference between both methods to avoid crossing that line.
Here are a few thoughts for consideration:
Understanding the difference between preparing and coaching your banking expert witness
Banking Expert Witness Preparation
Working with your banking expert witness is entirely acceptable from an ethical and legal standpoint. It can prove to be very important to the success of your case. It can range from briefing your expert on the trial venue and the participants to sharing with them the facts most important to your matter. An attorney should lay out the particulars of the case and discuss what specific areas the expert should be prepared to provide opinions.
Moreover, lawyers can discuss ways to boost the credibility of their banking expert witness as a part of the preparation process, without raising any concerns. Make sure that your expert studies the facts of your particular matter. It is crucial that the expert has a firm understanding and has reviewed the documents produced. An expert that freely offers opinions on an issue without a firm grasp of the case specifics can lose credibility quickly or, even worse, be excluded from the case.
Witness preparation is a time that can be used to make your expert carefully consider their testimony and make any necessary changes, which will create a better connection with a judge and jury. An expert needs to strike that critical balance between educating the jurors without sounding condescending and establish a connection to them that will strengthen their credibility. Jurors are people too, and the expert should be reminded that after sitting in a courtroom for an extended time, a juror can have a short attention span. As a result, the expert should try to deliver the most important themes early on in their testimony before a juror is distracted, or their mind drifts off to something else. Be sure to encourage the expert to review the critical parts of the material related to their testimony and practice possible answers. The better they know the case and the relevant facts, the more confident they will be when they are on the witness stand.
Last, remind your expert to be direct and answer the question to the best of their ability. Experts are not expected to know everything. Remind them that its ok to say, “I don’t know,” if that is true. Jurors are people too and prefer an honest witness to one who is trying to be witty or evasive with their answers.
Banking Expert Witness Coaching
Coaching your banking expert witness is an unethical approach that could include asking them to obfuscate the truth.
Instructing the witness to be misleading could lead to severe legal consequences and weaken a case. If it is discovered that a lawyer has coached a witness to mislead the court—they could be charged with suborning perjury while the witness could be charged with perjury.
An honest and ethical expert witness will never omit essential facts or critical information to support a specific case theory.
Why is it important to learn the difference?
It’s critical to prove to the court that your expert banking witness is invited to provide an objective opinion, which isn’t biased in your client’s favor.
Therefore, lawyers should tread carefully and make sure they don’t coach their witnesses to answer questions of opposing counsel in specific ways to twist the facts.
The testimony of your bank expert witness largely depends on their credibility, and any attempt to influence their opinion can significantly damage your case.
Hire an experienced and objective banking expert witness
It’s essential to hire an experienced and objective banking expert witness to ensure their testimony holds high value in front of the judge and jurors.
Ideally, you should find an expert with a background in the banking sector, with extensive knowledge of the financial industry, and prior experience in providing expert witness services.
An experienced expert witness is deemed more credible and doesn’t require extensive preparation, which minimizes the risk of coaching. Further, you can also review their previous engagements to see how they handled prior depositions and trial testimony. Was the expert able to communicate their knowledge of the subject effectively without sounding like a professor who wants to impress everyone? Were they able to answer the questions and communicate without lengthy answers and technical jargon that confused the audience?
Preparing an expert witness is an essential component of trial preparation. The tips in this article will help your expert testify in a way that connects with a jury, and serve as a critical asset at deposition or trial.
Jason D. Koontz is a former banking Senior Vice President with over 20 years of lending, cash management, and bank operations experience. He has vast hands-on experience in bank lending practices, deposit accounts, and matters involving residential real estate. Mr. Koontz has extensive, coast-to-coast, experience as an expert witness (retained in over 150 matters). He has served as an expert witness in cases involving commercial loans, residential mortgages, predatory lending, debt collection, underwriting, consumer protection, fraud, truth in lending, lender liability, loan servicing, deposit accounts, residential property valuation, and USPAP compliance. He has been engaged in multiple matters where predatory and abusive loan practices were alleged. Mr. Koontz has extensive testifying experience at deposition and trial. He can be reached at (646) 397 – 3835 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Jason Koontz is not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.
Jason D Koontz