NJ Court Testimony
We have over twenty-five years of NJ court testimony experience, testifying in a variety of matters. In order to help your case, Robert A. Bonavito, CPA - A Professional Corporation has experience in eight key areas:
- Technical Expertise. Just as a traditional CPA must be proficient in auditing, accounting, and tax work, so must a forensic accountant. Yet unlike traditional accounting, forensic accounting is investigative and must withstand intense scrutiny and challenge by opposition. Therefore, we bring an enhanced skill set to the engagement.
- Experience. We have over twenty-five years of experience.
- Credibility, Independence, Objectivity, High Ethical Standards. These qualities all make for a credible expert and a strong witness. We will listen to counsel regarding a case, but will weigh-out the strengths and weaknesses to formulate an independent opinion. Such credibility helps us support a convincing argument with a judge and jury.
- Court-Wise. We have demonstrated strong oral communication skills on the stand, as well as the ability to effectively simplify complex information. Our appearance and demeanor add to those court-wise strengths.
- Communication Skills. We will condense and simplify complicated information and present it in terms that are easy to understand. Both verbal and written skills are key to successfully interpreting financial information. We are comfortable with oral evidence and demonstrate the natural ability to convey an opinion to attorneys, judges, and juries.
- Listening Skills. Listening is the other half of the communication equation, and is critical on the stand and during cross-examination in a trial. We will answer questions without “volunteering” information. In addition, as skilled forensic accountants we will listen to the opposing counsels expert opinions and know how to contrast those points on a professional level without being unpleasantly confrontational or argumentative.
- Foresight. As knowledgeable, quick-thinking experts we have the ability to look beyond the analytical details to grasp the bigger picture.
- Investigative Intuitiveness. As forensic accountants we don’t just crunch numbers; we also apply well-honed gumshoe skills to uncover clues and facts. Because the work is part detective, we must apply strong discovery skills and piece together information toward a solution—a talent that is both learned, and sharpened through experience.
Court Testimony FAQs
What are the NJ court testimony guidelines for witnesses?
Most people do not realize that New Jersey forensic accountants, when testifying in court are there to inform and educate the judge, jury and other members of the lawsuit. Expert testimony in New Jersey is covered by the New Jersey Rules of Evidence 702. This rule states that “if scientific common technical or specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skills, experience, training or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.”
In order for an expert to be qualified they have to meet three specific criteria:
Assist the trier of fact; “the primary justification for permitting expert testimony is that the average juror is relatively helpless in dealing with a subject that is not a matter of common knowledge.” The forensic accountant must be able to “enhance the knowledge and understanding of the lay jurors with respect to the testimony of a special nature normally outside the usual lay Sphere.”
Sufficient reliability; the forensic accountant must be able up to demonstrate that the criteria he is using in his testimony was generally accepted in the scientific community.
Specifically, the court has ruled; “when the qualifications of a person to be a witness, or the admissibility of evidence… Is subject to a condition, that issue is to be determined by the judge… The judge may hear and determine such matters out of the presence of hearing of the jury.”
The expert witnesses’ qualifications; the court has ruled the following; ”in terms of qualifications, an expert must be suitably qualified and possessed of sufficient specialized knowledge to be able to express an expert opinion and to explain the basis of that opinion”
What are the “Rules of Evidence”?
In order for testimony or documents to be submitted to the court they must meet certain requirements, called the rules of evidence. There are four rules of evidence.
General rule of admissibility; this rule deals mainly with relevant material and evidence that can and cannot be barred from court.
- Real evidence, such as a murder weapon, the scene of the accident.
- Demonstrated evidence; testimony of a witness, etc.
- Documentary evidence such as contracts, tape recordings, etc.
Will I be expected to testify in court?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case you may or may not want to testify in court. A court can send you a subpoena and inform you on what testimony they need from you and you may need to testify on that situation. It is important to realize that you cannot be forced to testify in a criminal matter, under most circumstances.
Can I invoke my Fifth Amendment right if I am required to provide court testimony?
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution actually says a person shall not be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. However, this has also been found to be applicable in most civil actions as well.
Can I refuse to testify altogether?
You can invoke the Fifth Amendment which specifically states that you cannot be forced to testify. However, the legal ramifications of this are very complex and usually should involve a lengthy discussion with an experienced attorney.
Can I refuse to testify?
Yes, you can refuse to testify, but you need to invoke the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment specifically deals with criminal matters, but you may be able to extend that to civil matters under certain conditions.
What are the most commonly asked questions in court?
There are many types of questions you may be asked during a trial. Typically, if you take the time to think about what questions you may be asked you can accurately predict them 80% of the time. Also, you must realize that attorneys ask questions for different reasons. Sometimes they ask questions just to rile you and get you upset. Two common types of questions that often come up during testimony are the slippery slope any ad hominem questions. The slippery slope question usually starts by asking something that is obviously true and then applying it to a situation where is not applicable. The ad hominem question is one where you are attacked personally because they have a weak case.
What are some tips for testifying in court?
The most important thing when testifying in court is to remain calm and professional no matter what happens. When testifying as an expert it is important to show your confidence and a pleasant disposition. It is also possible to figure out most of the questions that will be asked based on your analysis of the current facts and information available. Remember, if you do not recall something it is perfectly okay to say, “I do not recall”.
What is “expert testimony”?
Expert testimony is testimony that meets the requirements of the rules of evidence. There are specific requirements that an expert must meet in order to testify in court. These include experience, education, and reliability of the information used.
How can a forensic accountant testify on my behalf?
A forensic accountant’s testimony is based on the facts and circumstances and not your opinion. By testifying on your behalf in an independent and objective way a New Jersey forensic accountant will be much more helpful to your case.
Should I retain a New Jersey forensic accountant for my case?
Obtaining the services of a New Jersey forensic accountant early in the case can be extremely helpful. Sometimes a New Jersey forensic accountant can shed light on certain facts or situations that can help you understand the strengths or weaknesses of your case. By obtaining critical information from a New Jersey forensic accountant you can better judge whether you should pursue or settle the matter in dispute. This may be counterintuitive, but in the long term it is better to utilize the experience of a New Jersey forensic accountant who has experience and has assisted other clients with your same issue.