Working with Experts

AuthorJeffrey E. Thoma and Dale Watson
Working with Experts
Jeffrey E. Thoma and Dale Watson
Much of what I’ve learned about representing people with mental disabilities
I have learned from experts in my cases. I’ve peppered them with questions
about their reports. I’ve read books and articles they’ve recommended. I’ve
listened to their war stories. I’ve asked them questions about their research.
I’ve discussed cases in the news with them. And I’ve respected them for the
professionals that they are.
When representing people with mental disabilities, the expert is an
important part of the defense team because he or she is uniquely qualified
to explain your client’s behavior to the court, whether during pretrial hear-
ings, trial, or in mitigation at sentencing. As the authors Jeffrey Thoma and
Dr. Dale Watson show, the skillful and effective use of an expert begins long
before that expert is called to testify. Like the authors of Chapter 14, “Working
with Clients,” the authors here believe that the foundation for working with
the expert is building a strong relationship with the client. Additionally, the
authors discuss selecting the right expert, qualifying your expert to testify,
and cross-examining the prosecution’s expert.
• • •
Selecting an Expert
Before ever getting to the critical stage of selecting an expert, there is
one fundamental principle that underlies not just this aspect of your case
but is paramount in all aspects of your case before any other. You must

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