Working with Expert Witnesses

This daylong training will address the increasing need to use expert witnesses in immigration court proceedings. CLINIC’s faculty will be joined by Central American country condition expert, Elizabeth Kennedy, for a day of substantive training and activities.

9:30-10:30 a.m. Introduction to Experts

This panel will give an overview of the use of experts in immigration court. It will focus on why experts are important, who can serve as an expert, how to find an expert and how experts can help educate the representative while preparing the case.

10:30-10:45 a.m. Break

10:45-11:15 a.m. Let’s Hear from the Expert: Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Experts

Elizabeth Kennedy, a renowned expert on Central American country conditions, will join CLINIC’s faculty to provide an expert’s view on how representatives can most effectively work with expert witnesses.

11:15 a.m.-Noon All about Expert Reports

In addition to the testimony expert witnesses provide, the written reports they produce are critical to the outcomes of cases. This session will give participants hands-on exercises to critique written expert reports and help participants understand what feedback they can give to expert witnesses to make their written reports as persuasive as possible.

Noon-1 p.m. Working Lunch (Provided) View from the Bench: A Retired Immigration Judge’s Perspective on Experts

Participants will hear from retired immigration judge Denise Slavin about the role experts can play in persuading an adjudicator. Judge Slavin will answer questions from the audience, so be sure to bring all your questions on this topic.

1-1:45 p.m. Qualifying Experts: Presentation and Demo

As immigration court proceedings become increasingly adversarial, DHS may object to proposed witnesses being qualified as experts. This session will focus on the legal requirements of being an expert, and will give nuts and bolts information about how to accredit experts. The session will conclude with a demonstration of an effective accreditation.

1:45-2 p.m. Break

2-2:45 p.m. Direct Examination of the Expert: Presentation and Demo

The heart of the expert’s testimony is their opinion. This session will discuss how to conduct an effective direct examination of an expert. Presenters will then demonstrate a direct examination on country conditions in El Salvador with expert Elizabeth Kennedy.

2:45-3:30 p.m. Expert Issues During Trial: “What Would you Do?”

The training will conclude with an interactive session in which faculty act out common problems that may arise in immigration court when working with expert witnesses.  Presenters will consult with participants about possible ways to address these problems as they arise.

Workshop Day