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RE: META-DISCUSSION: How Participation on SEAINT Can Hurt You

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As Chris pointed out - if asked, always tell the truth and use it to your
advantage. I "goggled" myself and found hundreds of references. I was amazed
how far back they went, but as I read through the posts that were
referenced, I was amazed at how much information I was seeking and how much
I learned in the process. 
Some might suggest that you post less or avoid discussion of a case. By all
means avoid discussing the case, but if you post a question related to your
work on a case, then disclose it. In my opinion, you are seeking as much
relevant information to obtain the truth rather than to post only one
opinion that may be challenged in court. 
You can't avoid pressure from hard attorneys, but in most cases this stats
in the deposition and by the time it gets to arbitration or court you are
bound by your deposition. Therefore, you need to reacquaint yourself with
your deposition so that you are not caught in conflicting answers. If you
have learned something new after a deposition, be prepared to disclose this
before arbitration or court as this information can be used against you.
This happened once and I simply confirmed in court that I received more
information and at the time when asked if I knew I was bound to turn the
information over - I told the truth - I did not know and that the
information offered no additional information that would have changed my
professional opinion. 
I am not afraid of what I ask or advise on this list - it can be used
against you if you specifically mention a client and a case. However, if you
seek structural engineering information without specific link to your client
or the case, you have nothing to hide and should still disclose the
questions and answers you obtained.
I believe strongly that it makes you a more reliable witness whether or not
the jury or the arbitrator agrees. The more technical the information you
present, the more difficult it will be for the jury or non-technical
arbitrator to be convinced of your testimony.

Always be open and honest - there is no way to spin this or suggest any
impropriety on your part. Use the list to help you seek the truth - this is
what it is there for and this is how you explain the use of the List as a
reference tool.

Regards,
Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2004 2:05 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: META-DISCUSSION: How Participation on SEAINT Can Hurt You


On Nov 10, 2004, at 3:02 PM, Bill Polhemus wrote:

> I thought I'd mention this because I am aware of a few of us who deal 
> with legal matters, and if this has never come up before, be advised 
> that by my own example, it could.
Sometimes you get out-lawyered in a case like that, which has happened 
to me. It's not easy to to sit there and be polite and objective when 
someone is trying to discredit you, but it's important to remember that 
it's business, not personal. I've run into very few lawyers who are 
basically unpleasant nasty characters--when they seem to get nasty, 
they're trying to get you rattled, so that you'll look unsure of 
yourself. If you try giving opposing counsel some of his own medicine, 
you'll only get the jury thinking about how much they dislike you both. 
That's a fatal mistake, because you lose credibility and destroy any 
willingness by the jury to listen to what you have to say. If your 
client is sharp, he'll often jump in with an objection to let you catch 
your breath.

As far as your speaking to anyone about the case, if it was obvious or 
provable that you really were discussing the case, you made a big 
mistake. A really nasty lawyer could have moved to have you removed as 
an expert and your testimony disallowed if you'd said you didn't 
discuss the case when you actually did. That would have done you no 
good at all. If you'd couched the discussion as shop talk about 
something you already knew, you should have been able to point that 
out.

> Beware our legal brethren. They're out to get you.
This is dead wrong. They're out to win the case. It's not 
personal--it's business.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com    | this distance" (last words of Gen.
...................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw/


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