Expert Witness or Punching Bag?
Nancy A Hetrick
Yesterday I had the pleasure of serving as an expert witness for the first time at the divorce trial of one of my clients. Now the vast majority of my clients are either using mediation or another alternative resolution process to agree to a final divorce settlement so almost no one ever actually goes to trial. Well, this one did, and the financial information I had analyzed was a critical part of the testimony to validate spousal maintenance for my client.
Now, I KNOW that a courtroom is not a friendly place to be. Unfortunately, I’ve been in one three times with my own ex-husband and it was definitely not any fun. However, yesterday was somewhat unsettling.
I was prepared for the opposing attorney to try to discredit me but I was NOT prepared for the judge to be unaware of what a CDFA was and for the opposing attorney to try to convince her that the entire notion of a CDFA was just ludicrous. “How could they possibly listen to me when I could just make up any numbers I wanted?” Seriously? Oh, and did I forget to mention that the opposing attorney actually knows me fairly well? We’re in a professional group together. I was like, “sheesh! Be nice!” I know he was just doing his job.
Then, I learn that I have 2 minutes of time because the attorneys had used up all the rest. Luckily, the judge didn’t buy the attempt to discredit me – but I did have to use 1 of my 2 minutes to validate the credential and my experience. I’m pretty sure that was his original intent actually. Then, the judge actually asked the attorney that called me to the stand, my client’s attorney, if he was SURE that asking me a question was how he wanted to use his last minute! He looked at her smiled and said, “I’m absolutely sure”.
Then he asked me THE question and I went into my articulate, educated, informed voice and BLEW THE OPPOSITIONS CLAIMS RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER!!! Oh yeah! Who’s punching who now? I ‘m pretty confident that when I walked out of that courtroom, the opposing attorney was thinking, “Dang. I wish she had been on my team….”
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