Retired NYPD lieutenant, attorney, and ILEETA member Adam Kasanof has done something that has needed to be done for a long time – he has provided an affordable, easy to understand guide to help law enforcement trainers become better expert witnesses. His book, How to be an Expert Witness: A Handbook for Law Enforcement Trainers," is excellent, and long overdue.
Law enforcement trainers are the hidden, under-utilized resource of the profession. Most trainers have fashioned themselves into subject matter experts through their commitment to their mission of keeping their people safer and less susceptible to litigation. Many trainers have spent a significant amount of their own time, and considerable dollars, in making themselves into resources for their departments and their fellow officers. The best trainers continually seek out new information and ideas, and frequently create new training and information paradigms in their desire to be the best at what they do. That mountain of information, and that fountain of energy and creativity, frequently are not used to their greatest potential.
Many trainers will eventually think about doing some expert witness work. Some will be tapped as in-house experts by their agencies – others will consider hiring out their services as litigation consultants or expert witnesses. No matter how they get into expert work, most will be out of their depth – at least initially – in terms of exactly what is expected by the attorneys they work for, and what is required by the legal system. What they need is an easy to understand guide that explains what to do and how to do it. Kasanof's book is that guide.
While Kasanof's book is easy to understand, it's not organized like most books. It's broken into sections, rather than chapters, and it's not always easy to tell when one section ends and another begins; but that's not really a problem. That's because Kasanof takes an easy-going, conversational tone, and just talks the reader through the process, as if he were sitting across the table chatting about what it takes to be an expert witness.
Kasanof covers just about everything the budding expert needs to know to get started: He starts out by defining what an expert is, and what he or she is not. From there, he takes the reader through a discussion of what experts do, and how they get "qualified" in court. He talks about how to find work as an expert, how to work with attorneys, and how to make sure you get paid.
For those who might be a little rusty regarding the process, Kasanof discusses the flow of both criminal and civil cases, and the primary differences between the two. No matter how experienced you are, you'll find something new here that you didn't know.
The book includes an excellent discussion of common pitfalls and errors that experts make, and the ethical issues that sometimes come up. Kasanof lays out the requirements for a proper expert's report, and offers tips on how to write an effective report.
Finally, he goes into the Federal Rules of Evidence as they relate to experts and expert testimony, and explains how attorneys go about trying to get the other side's experts disqualified.
Kasanof is an ILEETA member, and attendees at each year's ILEETA conference have had the opportunity to take in his excellent sessions where he discusses some of what he has included in his book. If you're at next year's conference, and you haven't had the chance to attend Kasanof's session, make it a point to check it out.
I've handled cases as an expert witness for more than 10 years, and I found a great deal to learn in this book. I highly recommend it to all trainers, and it should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking about actually working as an expert witness or case consultant.
The book's not easy to find, so your best bet is to contact Adam Kasanof at [email protected], or through The Kasanof Group, at (917) 974-3341.