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What Makes Someone an Expert Witness?

Video Transcript:

Hi, my name is Matt Anderson. I'm an attorney at Jaburg Wilk and I devote my practice to a general civil litigation defense practice.

What Makes Someone an Expert Witness in the Eyes of the Law?

Arizona follows the Federal Rules of Evidence in this regard and so the general rule is that an expert can be qualified to offer expert opinions through knowledge, education, background, training and experience. Now the issue of admissibility of those opinions is a topic for another day however, Arizona generally follows the Daubert standard which requires the judge to be the gatekeeper for whether that evidence is ultimately admissible to the jury based on sufficient reliability, and sufficient facts of that opinion testimony. Now in a medical malpractice setting, Arizona maintains a separate statute that requires the expert on standard of care to have practiced the majority of his or her professional time in that particular area in the year before the incident in question.

How is an Expert Witness's Testimony Best Utilized During a Trial?

Another issue that I often run into in hiring independent experts is the perception of a jury that an expert's opinions are for sale for an example. Because it's common knowledge that the expert is being paid for his or her opinions and so the way to bolster those opinions, to bolster the expert's credibility, is to work with experts who do both plaintiff work and defense work and in addition to that, to ensure that I as the attorney am not using the same experts on the same issues over and over; to branch out, to explore using different experts and ultimately so long as the expert is basing his or her opinions on sufficient facts of the case, credibility should not be an issue.


About the Author: Matt Anderson is an attorney and partner in the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilkwhere he concentrates his practice on the defense of retailers, restaurants, and hospitality entities, and the defense of medical malpractice and health care matters.  He also handles high-exposure litigation involving catastrophic injury, wrongful death, and professional liability.