It's Only an Opinion: An Appraiser in Court.

AuthorGaffney, Gary S.

It's Only an Opinion: An Appraiser in Court by Henry J. Wise

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word, there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker's personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible.--Aristotle

As a dirt-lawyer (and real estate broker) for more than three decades, having handled disputes over fee and leasehold evaluations, condemnations, mortgage financings, partitions, and even appeals of government-loan buybacks, by sheer necessity, I have always relied on expert opinions of value as a matter of course. As an academic, I have always looked for an appraisal resource that was more than just a bunch of numbers.

In It's Only an Opinion, appraiser Henry Wise provides just that and more. Wise provides an inside look at the appraisal profession, one formed over decades in the trenches. Armed with several degrees and professional certifications, Wise has served as expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice; for states, cities, and counties; and a number of regional and national law firms. He has appraised mountains, caves, and wells; air rights; and the Everglades of all things. He has assessed fee and fractional interests, joint tenancies--and has valued shopping centers, apartments, office buildings --every type of commercial real estate. A business appraiser as well, Wise has assigned value to privately held companies, to limited partnerships, professional associations, intellectual property, and other intangible assets. He certainly brings a wealth of practical experience to this endeavor. But it is his personal insight into what he does that is so revealing.

Indeed, for years, I've taught my law students that one person's opinion has little significance in law. The practical reality is, only an expert can offer an opinion in court. Having championed my own experts' opinions over the years (while, not surprisingly, trashing my opponents'!), I know all-too-well how the process works; in virtually every case that requires expert testimony, there are at least two experts, each with (not-coincidentally) diametrically opposed opinions.

Wise suggests that providing the court with expert testimony is much like the venerable...

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