Juror Perception of Expert Witnesses

Attorneys should read and take to heart the advice of Jeremy Rose in his article “How jurors perceive expert witnesses”, Trial, June 2000, at pp 51 et seq. Among the points he makes are:

  • Jurors are uncomfortable with experts who appear as hired guns. Jurors are comfortable with experts who convey that they want to help jurors understand what they need to know to make a just decision. Jurors respond most favorable to experts who convey the sense that they really want jurors to understand the facts and concepts at issue. “Why does he want to be an expert?” is a key concept to explain to the jury.
  • Good experts are good teachers, with a limited set of main points, who lay those main points out clearly from the outset, perhaps also with a simple chart. This oral (and hopefully also visual) chart of the main points makes it clear where the experts are going and how they are getting there.
  • (Visual aids have an extra benefit of allowing the expert to leave the witness stand and move around naturally for a while.)
  • Good experts explain concepts in a way that matches juror’s common sense.