Today’s headlines about the Roger Clemens substance abuse trial almost all focus on one thing: The testimony of an expert witness.
“Defense expert: Evidence in Clemens case is ‘lacking,’” USA today exclaimed.
“Clemens expert witness says beer can evidence is ‘garbage,’” blared the Mail Tribune.
But before Dr. Bruce Goldberger got to testify, prosecutors challenged the expert witness’ credibility. According to the New York Daily News, prosecutors “raised heavy skepticism as to whether Goldberger was a qualified expert witness.”
At Huseby, our court reporters have seen expert witnesses captivate judges and juries, turn them off completely or just plain ruin a case by accident. A good expert can make the difference between winning and losing.
Here are several characteristics of a good expert witness:
• Personality: Arrogant or annoying witnesses are less likely to be believed by juries.
• Background: In most states, lawyers are allowed to ask witnesses if they have any felony convictions or any misdemeanors involving lying, cheating or stealing.
• Comprehension: They should speak clearly and use words that people can understand.
• Preparation: Being familiar with key points of the case make the witness popular not only with the jury and judge, but also with court reporting services that must understand what is said in order to accurately take down the testimony.
According to USA Today, Goldberger’s testimony was damaging to the government’s case against Clemens. Goldberger spoke about the infamous beer can from 2001 that Clemens’ former strength coach, Brian McNamee, said he used to store medical waste that belonged to Clemens. The waste includedcotton balls that were linked to Clemens’ DNA by a government expert witness.
“I think the government’s conclusions are overreaching with regard to the interpretation of this evidence,” Goldberger was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News. “The weight of evidence in this case is lacking because of the potential for contamination.”
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