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Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Unlikeable Witness

In a medical malpractice case, our expert was a Harvard-educated, well-credentialed expert who literally "wrote the book" on his topic. However, he was also an arrogant jerk--rude, demanding, and a total pain in the ass. As we approached the trial, I truly dreaded my interactions with him and could not wait to get the case over with so that I would never have to speak to him again. He did what we asked of him--he came and testified for our side and I thought, based on his credentials, that he was an impressive witness. However, his personality was still the same at trial and we lost the case. The judge allowed us to talk to the jury after the verdict and it was pretty clear the jury hated him too--he might have had prestigious credentials, but they didn't like his arrogance and felt that he was condescending toward the defendant doctor. Instead of persuading the jury, he ended up generating sympathy for the defendant. The take-away from this experience? If I don't like the witness, I should not expect the jury to like him either.

Bruce James, Trial Attorney, 2004

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