University of Pittsburgh

As litigation moves into the 21st century, the outcome in courtroom cases more and more frequently depends on the testimony of expert witnesses, those individuals who, by virtue of their skill, education, or training, possess peculiar knowledge which is relevant to the issues in dispute. Rare is the case that does not involve an expert in medicine, science, engineering, economics or other specialized fields of study. Their role is to explain and decipher things that a lay jury might have difficulty doing on their own. For example, in a medical malpractice case they may offer opinions as to whether the technique employed in a complex surgery was appropriate. If the subject is possible insurance fraud, they can give testimony as to whether a destructive fire was the result of arson or a mere accident. In support of an antitrust claim, they testify about lost profits and market impact. When there has been an aviation disaster, they may try to determine whether a critical component failed in flight and caused the disaster, or was damaged at impact as a result of the crash.

In this course, students will learn when expert testimony is needed; where to find appropriate experts; how to work with the expert to develop a theory of the case; and many more issues leading up to the actual trial of the case. Once the case reaches the courtroom, students will learn how to organize and present their own expert's testimony in a clear and concise fashion, and how to pursue the challenging task of "doing battle" with the opposing expert. In the end, students will achieve a greater appreciation for the subtleties of expert testimony, while at the same time acquiring the tools to deal with witnesses who speak in technical and unfamiliar language.

Enrollment is limited to third year law students. To receive priority enrollment, certificate students must sign up with the Program Director at least two weeks prior to the course registration period.

5295 EXPERT WITNESS 2 Credits
Conti/George Fall 2008
Danaher/Perry Spring 2009

 

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