Use Your Opponents Expert Witness on Causation to Be Your Witness

Get the most out of every witness. Even if they’re not your witness. For example, you have a client that has  post traumatic stress syndrome after a serious wreck, or after having lost a loved one from an act of careless negligence. The defense will put up a psychiatrist stating that your client doesn’t have depression.

Don’t argue with the doctor’s diagnosis that your client doesn’t have depression, but use the doctor to show that depression is serious, real and debilitating. Something like this:

  • Doctor, this depression that you say my client doesn’t have. You have a psychiatric practice, don’t you?
  • Doctor, you treat patients for depression?
  • Doctor, you believe that depression is real, don’t you?
  • And some of your patients do have this?
  • Doctor, you have seen it become debilitating to the point where they can’t work?
  • Doctor, sometimes it gets to the point where they can barely even move from the depression?

The jury can determine whether your client is depressed, but the defense doctor will bolster the seriousness of depression. It also sounds better when you get the information from their witness.

Written By:Robert Williamson On June 4, 2005 12:09 AM

I like the concept--you could probably go even further with it by asking him about the symptoms of depression. I wonder, however, the reference in the first statement to his earlier testimony. Do you think it wise to remind the jury of it directly? And the use of the words "that you say my client doesn't have" implies a challenge. What if the doctor responds to the implied challenge by amplifying on his earlier testimony as well as or in addition to used answering the question? Some judges I know would say you opened the door to the recitation. Would it be better to introduce the subject with a neutral statement like: "Doctor, I want to ask you about how depression affects people...."

Written By:Dave On June 4, 2005 05:33 AM

Robert,

You're right. You can take it a bunch of different ways. I didn't fully sequence the questions. It's mainly the concept I was commenting on. Thanks for the comments, though.

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