How to deal with some tough questions from opposing counsel


Harold Martin moderated an informative and practical panel on expert witness work at this week’s AICPA National Business Valuation Conference, aided by Barrett Pope, Esq., an accomplished litigator, and appraisers Michael Crain and Thomas Hilton.  The key question:  how to respond to cross-examination.

Here are some of the questions you should be prepared to answer.

Q:  How much are you being paid for our testimony?

A:  It is my firm that is being paid, and the firm is not being paid for my testimony, rather for my time.
Q: Do you recognize Pratt and Trugman as authoritative works?
A:  Shannon Pratt is indeed a thought leader in business valuation. That doesn't mean his works are authoritative, no matter how well they perform as references, to be used for guidance. I have many such references in my library. A valuation depends upon a very specific, unique set of facts and circumstances.
Q: How do you handle a request from an attorney for a yes or no answer?
A: 1. You don't have to comply with the other lawyer's request. Judge can mandate it.
2. "Yes, but ... " Is one way to handle this. If the attorney let's you continue, you can qualify your answer. If he or she doesn't, you have alerted the attorney who hired you that there is more to the answer, for redirect.
3. Another approach is, "I cannot answer it (your honor) truthfully yes or no..."
4. Yes if ... also works,   (i.e. yes, if you mean by that x,y,z; or no, if you mean by that d,e,f).
Tom Hilton warned about "the deal."  Opposing counsel asks, "can we agree that you will answer the questions yes or no?" Your correct response would be something like this, "If the question can truthfully and meaningfully be answered with one word, I will endeavor to do that.  Otherwise, I might need to explain my answers."


Categories