What to Include at a Minimum in an Expert Witness Report

I include entries for various telephone discussions I had with people in the case, and meetings with additional personnel. I make explicit reference to every document I read, every folder of data I received, and every CD or DVD or other electronic material I received.
Further, I list every legal document provided to me as reference material for the case. Every report written by other professionals or related parties in the matter is also listed, as are any deposition transcripts provided to me.  You should list the names of on point people you met, things you discussed, actions you took, and materials you reviewed. Your report can also contain any equipment you used, tests you ran, and reconstructions you made. You can explain in detail any analyses or assumptions you made, and any assignments that your attorney may have expressly given to you.
You should make clear that you considered the relevant facts you discovered in the above materials and that you then applied suitable procedures and methodologies to those facts. Altogether, this demonstrates that you understood the issues, the events, and the systems involved, and that the facts and methodologies together contribute to the reliability of the opinions you drew. If you made use of other exhibits or evidence that you wish to use in subsequent trial testimony, refer to them here.  If you have created or intend to create any demonstrative exhibits, make reference to them here as well. This might include graphs, mockups, or any other visual materials that you believe will help you better explain your opinions. You can include demonstrative evidence like this for your eventual testimony as one way to keep the jury’s attention and to further Enhance your credibility.
Not only can the means justify the end, but they must. In my expert reports, I always include a final section that summarizes in boldface each opinion I’ve reached and every opinion I will express if the matter comes to trial. To support each opinion, you can refer back to earlier portions of your report, and you can include extra text that further explains the basis for each opinion.
If you have had the opportunity to review the opposing expert’s report, simply include an entire analysis of the report.  Avoid commenting on the validity of any of the expert’s opinions, simply look at the work, comment on any errors you find in it, and note any invalid assumptions made that may undermine the validity of a conclusion drawn or opinion expressed by the other expert.
When you are selected for the defendant’s side, the plaintiff’s expert’s report will appear first, and you will read that expert’s opinions. While you may not have initially considered some of the opinions expressed, look at each one to determine if it is accurate and assess whether the opinion (accurate or not) has been fully supported by the facts, procedures, and methodologies followed by that expert.  Pay particular attention to whether the expert has overstated the evidence, not just where he might have stated erroneous opinions.
Just remember that you are not a lawyer. Never express legal opinions, either in writing or in testimony. However, understanding the legal elements of your case can often enable you to suggest industry experience that will support your attorney’s efforts. Ask your attorney early on about the legal issues involved in the case. What can he or she tell you about how your findings relate to those legal issues? Don’t just stop there. Conduct your own research on the Internet about the legal issues so that you understand any ramifications facing the Lawyers. In this way, you can focus your efforts more intelligently.

Judd Robbins has been an internationally recognized expert witness since 1986 in the US and in the UK. In 2010, his book “Expert Witness Training” was published by Presentation Dynamics. Robbins has advanced degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan, has been an Information Systems manager and an Education Systems manager, and consults in both computer and legal issues. Learn more about Mr. Robbins and his Expert Witness Training materials at www.juddrobbins.com

Related Expert Witness Articles