Expert reports and testimony only have value if they are: Honest, detailed, relavent and comply with prevailing case law and accepted scientific authority. Experts who meet these criteria seldom disagree in the matter in question with the opposing expert-perhaps 1% of the time.
It then comes down to the expert’s ability to convey those findings in a detailed, thorough and objective manner that does not contradict itself or ANY prior testimony on a similar case.
Unfortunately that is seldom the case.
Since 95% of all cases settle many lawyers reason why bother to hire a highly qualified experienced and expensive expert for most cases, especially if the other side doesn’t have one since as is the case with my work, signatures and writing can be proven can be “proven” with the testimony of someone who is familiar with the writing of the person whose signature is disputed as long as the opinion is not biased for any reason and is honest. Credibility of the witness goes to the weight given to it.
But herein lies the issue of the client contacting the expert and NOT the attorney. In signature cases, the client is seldom objective and may say or do something to try to influence the expert’s opinion. Honest experts DO NOT put themselves in that position even though they may be totally honest. You simply can’t stop a jury from believing otherwise because of the public perception that experts ALWAYS disagree, which is certainly NOT the case. Dishonest experts disagree not honest ones, but lacking the experience of most judges who have seen it all, laymen can’t always tell who is honest and who is not. There are MANY experts who make a very nice living slanting the truth to take advantage of the ignorance of a jury or even a judge. Experts are experts becasuse they do in fact know more than the judge and jury, which is why it is imperative to show in court that the expert IS in fact following the prevailing science and case law and has done so in ALL of his.her prior cases. This is exactly why the attorney MUST take command in ANY case where an expert is involved.
But today, not only are attorneys NOT hiring experts when they should, but they are abandoning their responsibility by letting the client do it, given what I said above. They are playing Russian Roulette with the case to simply save a few dollars in a case that will settle anyway. They simply don’t understand that the value of a good expert will win them substantially more than the fees that expert might charge. So not only are they CHEAP but LLAZY too. So they make it up on volume. The name of the game for some lawyers(many?) is minimal effort and expense/maximum gain–and certainly NOT justice for their client who is in the dark about a lot of these things and will not liely succeed in a malpractice suit even if they were unless the violation is egregious. Unfortunately being cheap and lazy are not unethical.
What is more egregious is the thousands of legitimate cases that go unprosecuted because the lawyers deems they simply just won’t make enough money to justify the effort. Many lawyers think the matter is a loss if they don’t recover MORE than what their hourly rate is for the time they spent as if they are entitled to a dividend for doing what they should be doing anyway–their job.
I can’t even begn to count the number of cases where I earned hourly fees that FAR exceed the actually hours I spent on the case, but I still made money which as one old lawyer friend told me: “its better than a shap stick n the eye” but MOST importantly, I help the client get SOMETHING. I am reminded of the litigant who complained to the judge about not getting justice in hiis case and Oliver Wendall Holmes stated: “Sir, this is a court of law, NOT a court of justice.
This is EXACTLY what you can expect if the attorney allows the client to have ANY contact with the expert outside of their presence and without their knowledge and consent. The attorney is the manager of the case and MUST know everything that is going on and will only have themselves to blame if they lose. How do you stop a jury from believing the testimony was NOT tainted? You don’t