The Ten Commandments of Testifying at Trial

The Ten Commandments of Testifying at Trial

Written on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 by David M. Benjamin, Ph.D., Clinical Pharmacologist & Toxicologist
Filed under: Business Development for Experts, Working with Experts

     From the moment you enter the parking lot, be polite to everyone you encounter. This means in the coffee shop, the rest rooms, and hallways, as well as the courtroom.

II     Address the attorneys by name, or as Sir or Ma’me, and the judge as Your Honor.

III    Remember that the reason that you are in court is to help the jury understand the scientific and technical aspects of the case.

IV   Focus on communicating in words the jurors can understand. Avoid jargon, and speak in    clear, concise “sound bites.”

V    Dress like a professional. Avoid excessive jewelry, outrageous neckties, and lapel pins.

VI   Always tell the truth, as opposed to a lie. The whole truth, as opposed to a “half-truth.” And nothing but the truth – which means don’t embellish your answer with misleading qualifiers.

VII   Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” that means that you did know the answer to theother questions you answered.   On cross-exam, 80% of questions will begin with, “Isn’t it a fact …,” “Wouldn’t you agree…,” “Is it fair to say …,” or “Isn’t it possible …” Listen attentively to all questions. If there is something you don’t understand, ask for clarification or rephrasing.

VIII   Always take the time to prepare for direct and cross-examination with the sponsoring Attorney. If the attorney balks at paying you for your time – do it for free! Don’t go to court unprepared and think you can “wing it.”

IX    Recognize that cross-examination is confrontational, and see it as an opportunity to demonstrate grace under pressure. Never get defensive. If something nasty or untrue is alleged, don’t lose your temper, just politely and respectfully state that he/she is mistaken.

   Be yourself, have fun with the questions, and remember that you know more about your field than any other person in the courtroom – that is your expert advantage!

About David M. Benjamin, Ph.D., Clinical Pharmacologist & Toxicologist

ExpertPages Profile | David M. Benjamin is a Ph.D.- trained Clinical Pharmacologist & Forensic Toxicologist, a trained arbitrator and mediator, and a nationally-recognized scholar in Legal Medicine, Reducing Medication Errors, the Drug Development process and Forensic Toxicology. Dr. Benjamin completed his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in 1972 and did his specialty training in Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1972-73. He then spent 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry conducting clinical research, assessing adverse drug effects, writing package inserts, and filing INDs and NDAs. Dr. Benjamin has authored more than 275 presentations and publications and 9 textbook chapters. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (toxicology Section), the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and the American College of Legal Medicine, and is a member of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists. Dr. Benjamin teaches Clinical Pharmacology and Reducing Medication Errors at Tufts Medical School and Forensic Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Drug Development at Northeastern University School of Pharmacy, where he is an Adjunct Associate Professor (2005-present.). Dr, Benjamin also is known for his work on the Commonwealth v. Christina Martin case where he was featured on Forensic Files and for his recent work on the Kerry Kennedy DUI Ambien case which resulted in a ”not guilty” verdict..

About David M. Benjamin, Ph.D., Clinical Pharmacologist & Toxicologist

ExpertPages Profile | David M. Benjamin is a Ph.D.- trained Clinical Pharmacologist & Forensic Toxicologist, a trained arbitrator and mediator, and a nationally-recognized scholar in Legal Medicine, Reducing Medication Errors, the Drug Development process and Forensic Toxicology. Dr. Benjamin completed his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in 1972 and did his specialty training in Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1972-73. He then spent 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry conducting clinical research, assessing adverse drug effects, writing package inserts, and filing INDs and NDAs. Dr. Benjamin has authored more than 275 presentations and publications and 9 textbook chapters. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (toxicology Section), the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and the American College of Legal Medicine, and is a member of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists. Dr. Benjamin teaches Clinical Pharmacology and Reducing Medication Errors at Tufts Medical School and Forensic Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Drug Development at Northeastern University School of Pharmacy, where he is an Adjunct Associate Professor (2005-present.). Dr, Benjamin also is known for his work on the Commonwealth v. Christina Martin case where he was featured on Forensic Files and for his recent work on the Kerry Kennedy DUI Ambien case which resulted in a ”not guilty” verdict..