Written by John Ulzheimer, Credit Reporting Expert Witness can be reached at 1 866 985 8884.
In my time as a credit expert witness I’ve had to write scores of expert witness reports. These reports have a purpose and that purpose is to clearly outline my opinions regarding the case for which I’ve been retained. But, expert witness reports (aka “expert reports”) are much more complicated to write than a blog or a book report you may have written in school.
When writing an expert report for a case that resides in Federal court you’re required to include certain attributes. Rule 26(a)(1) covers the disclosure of expert witness testimony including what must be included in expert reports. Your expert report must include…
A complete statement of all opinions and the basis for those opinions – You can’t just be of the opinion that, “The Plaintiff suffered no damages” and move on to the next opinion. You have to explain why you have that opinion including any citations to support your claim. Citations normally come from either the documents produced in the case, such as consumer credit reports.
A list of the data considered by the witness – This is basically your documents reviewed list. If you reviewed 1,000 pages of documents and those documents were bases for your opinions then you have to list the documents.
A list of your qualifications as an expert witness – Sorry, but you have to actually know what you’re talking about in order to be able to testify as an expert witness. That certainly doesn’t prevent some people from doing expert witness work but generally speaking, you have to be more than knowledgeable on the topics you’ve been retained to discuss. The qualifications must include a list of all of your publications authored in the past 10 years, a list of all other cases where you provided testimony in the past 4 years and the amount you are being compensated for your work.
In my case it’s not practical to list all of my publications authored in the past 10 years because the list is in the thousands. I normally provide links to the websites that publish my work and, besides, Google works great at finding bylined publications.
Even if I’m writing a report in State court, where the Rule 26 format is not required, I always use the same template. It makes writing the report easier and it provides for excellent organization of your documents and your opinions. After you’ve written a few reports the format will evolve into one that you’ll use over and over.
The attorney who has retained you will likely want to review a draft of the report before it’s officially submitted. That’s completely normal. You should know that drafts of expert witness reports are no longer discoverable, which means you won’t have to share all of your drafts with the adverse lawyer. Still, it’s prudent to ensure that your report is pretty much finalized before you share it with anyone.