of the types of things that resonate with
juries and can undermine an appraiser’s
credibility. Here are a few for your
Juries care whether an appraiser
is truly independent. Find out
whether the appraiser works for both
condemning agencies and owners. If
not, they could appear predisposed to
take certain positions.
Determine if a bias exists. For
example, how much money has the
appraiser made working for property
owners against condemning agencies?
Have they gotten rich off taking absurd
positions against utility companies
condemning easements? This is an
easy way to demonstrate bias.
Pay specific attention to the
appraiser’s resume. This is
the manner in which the expert
communicates their experience
and qualifications with the public.
Any embellishments or outright
inaccuracies included on a resume can
be devastating for an appraiser when
they take the stand.
Invest time in learning which
methodologies the appraiser
has used in the past. This can be
a goldmine for cross-examination
fodder. If an expert has always
appraised utility easements in a
certain way, but for some reason is
now applying a new methodology
which just happens to be creating
huge claims for the property owner,
this is critically important to your case
and can significantly undermine the
Fight the Battle to Win the War
This brings us to the deposition. This
is by far the most crucial part of the
process. The single most important goal
of the deposition is to eliminate any
surprises at trial. To accomplish this, it’s
best to employ a two-prong attack.
appraisers forget to modify their
appraisal templates. This can be a
particularly fertile area of attack.
Fully understanding the appraiser’s
methodology is necessary so
that you can identify where past
appraisal work differed. The
research you did on the appraisal
expert’s past work and testimony
will not be useful unless you can
explain to the jury why their
current work is inconsistent with it.
Challenge Their Credibility
In the courtroom, an expert’s
ability to appear trustworthy and
believable can make or break a case.
Unfortunately, substance does not
always reign supreme. Perception
is what matters. Whether judge,
jury or special panel, the trier of
fact will find it difficult to find for
a party whose expert they cannot
trust. Simply put, credibility is
paramount. It is, therefore, your
job to gather information that can
be used to challenge the opposing
expert’s ability to be convincing and
At trial, the expert will have
already testified prior to your
cross-examination, so your goal is
to make the jury question whether
they can trust in what expert says.
The process of undermining an
expert’s credibility should start
early in the case and continue
through to the trial testimony.
While some credibility evidence
can (and should) be collected early
on, you will also rely significantly
on the expert’s deposition as some
of these things you can only learn
from the appraiser. At the outset of
your search, cast a wide net. Early
on, you will have no idea what may
eventually be beneficial at trial.
After having tried many just
compensation cases to jury verdicts,
we have gained an understanding
...your goal is
to make the
can trust in