Expert Witness Testimony

Parties to a trial can ask anyone who has a connection to the case or who can help their case to testify at their trial. The parties may also ask an expert to testify when the case contains technical or scientific elements which are difficult to understand.

Who is a witness?

A witness is a person who has personally seen or heard a situation and who comes to tell what happened in court. Before starting the testimony, the clerk will make him swear or testify to tell the whole truth. A witness cannot give his opinion or speculate.

Who is an expert witness?

An expert witness is a witness with increased knowledge in a specific field. Its role is to assist the court impartially in understanding the issues related to its area of expertise. The expert witness gives his opinion and can make recommendations or hypotheses within his area of competence.

When should you use the services of an expert witness?

Expert witnesses are used when the case involves technical or scientific elements that are difficult to understand. They come to explain specific concepts and give their opinion on the facts on the file. For example, a psychologist or psychiatrist could explain the consequences of depression on the behavior of the accused.

The Supreme Court has established criteria for an expert witness to be admissible to the court. His testimony must be relevant. It must be necessary to assist the judge in understanding the facts. There must be no rules which exclude his testimony and the expert in question must be competent in the given field. Without these criteria, the expert’s testimony will not be admissible in evidence.

What qualifies an Expert Witness Testimony?

During a trial, if a party wishes to use the testimony of an expert witness, certain measures must be taken several months before the date of the trial. For example, the party will need to submit the expert’s resume to prove that they have the skills required in their area of expertise. In addition, the party must submit an expert report to the opposing party.

What is an “expert report”?

The expert report is a written version of what the expert will say during his testimony. The expert report must be sent to the opposing party before the trial. It includes:

  1. The name, address and area of competence of the expert
  2. The expert’s work experience, as well as his training in his area of expertise
  3. The instructions given by the lawyer to the expert with regard to the proceeding
  4. The nature of the opinion sought and each question to which the opinion relates
  5. The expert’s opinion on each question and, if more than one opinion is given, a summary of the range and the reasons for the expert’s opinion
  6. The reasons supporting the expert’s opinion, namely:
  7. a description of the assumptions relating to the facts of the case on which the opinion is based,
  8. a description of the research carried out by the expert who led him to formulate his opinion,

iii.    the list of documents, if any, on which the expert relied to formulate his opinion.

Role of expert witness

The role of an expert witness is to help the court better understand the facts by clarifying your expertise on certain elements, for example:

  • The value of a piece of jewelry, a work of art or a comic strip
  • Examination of the physical or mental condition of the accused
  • The content of a document

To this end, they must answer the questions put to them by the prosecutor and the defense lawyer.

What to expect from an expert witness?

When they are called to testify, they must take an oath and swear to tell the whole truth by solemn declaration. As a preliminary matter, before allowing them to give evidence in the form of an opinion, the court will have to recognize that they have the qualifications necessary to be considered an expert. To this end, the lawyer who has retained these services will have to give the court details about the level of education, training, experience and professional titles. Once accepted by the judge as an expert, they will first be questioned by the lawyer who retained their services (main examination) and then cross-examined by the opposing lawyer. Following cross-examination, the lawyer who retained their services may ask them additional questions in the context of a re-examination.

The need for an expert witness

It is recommended that you hire the services of an expert witness when your small claims case involves complex and technical facts or questions. If the facts or questions are simple, the judge will be able to make a decision for himself without the help of the expert witness.

For example, if your claim relates to an ankle injury caused by the opposing party, you may need to see a doctor. He can decide on the extent of your injury, the rehabilitation time, temporary or permanent sequel, the medication required, and other medical matters. A judge cannot do this analysis as he does not have the skills of a doctor.

To find out if you should call an expert witness in your small claims file, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have to prove something that is scientific, technical or that requires special knowledge?
  • Does someone have to give their opinion on one aspect of the case to prove me?
  • Does any aspect of the case exceed the knowledge of a judge?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, an expert witness is probably necessary.

Duties of expert witness

The expert witness must be independent and impartial. He is free to express his opinion regarding your situation. No one should try to convince him to adopt a position which may be favorable to him. For example, the result at trial cannot affect the remuneration of the expert witness.

In addition, the expert witness cannot provide testimony for the two opposing parties since he would be in a conflict of interest situation. The two parties may however agree to call the same expert witness to enlighten the court on a technical question. This has the advantage of limiting the costs for both parties. On the other hand, this practice is rare since each party generally fears that the results will not be favorable to them.

Does my expert witness have to travel to the hearing?

Your expert witness does not normally have to appear in court on the day of your trial. The expert must write a document called “expert report”. This report is part of the evidence and is equivalent to the expert’s written testimony. If it considers it necessary, the opposing party may, however, require the presence of the expert at the trial so that he can answer his questions or those of the judge.

You must file the expert report in the court file at least twenty-one (21) days before the date of the hearing so that the judge, and the other parties, can read it before the trial. In his report, the expert indicates the facts which he has observed or which have been related to him as well as his opinion on these facts.

What are the costs an expert witness Testimony in Oklahoma?

If you mandate an expert witness to give his opinion on a technical aspect of your case, you will have to anticipate costs for the preparation of his written report as well as costs for his testimony on the day of the trial.

Depending on the type of expertise you are looking for, costs may vary. However, it is possible to ask the court to order the opposing party to reimburse expert fees. It is the judge who will decide to award the winning party reimbursement in whole or in part of these costs.

The costs for an expert witness are high. For this reason, it is doubly important to assess the relevance of his testimony before calling on his services. However, we are here to help in Oklahoma. In most cases, when you send the summons to testify, you must pay the witness travel or attendance allowance in advance, in accordance with applicable provincial and territorial laws. Then you have to pay the expert rate which is often an hourly rate. Finally, you must pay a daily allowance, as well as the costs of meals and overnight accommodation if applicable.