By Stephen M. Raffle, M.D.
As a forensic psychiatrist, I have been deposed about 500 times and been examined in about 150 trials. Because my field is so specialized, I believe it is one of my duties to assist attorneys in preparing cross-examination questions so the attorney can obtain the necessary information about psychiatric damages in order to understand the case better. Expert witnesses by their very nature are permitted to testify because they know and understand a body of knowledge that laypeople are not expected to know. Attorneys are laypeople as far as psychiatry is concerned; for that reason they deserve the participation of an expert to help them understand less obvious aspects of my specialty. When an opposing expert offers an opinion that is contrary to mine and is based upon certain evidence, I believe it is necessary for me to point out where the disagreement exists and why my position is the better one. This can become the basis for preparing attorneys for the cross-examination of another expert. By so doing, I believe I advance the truth-finding process, which is the purpose of a trial and certainly the purpose of discovery.
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