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THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSICS

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International Network of Environmental Forensics, Toronto, Ontario: Dr. Michael Sklash, P. Eng., Dragun Corporation, co-presented with Natalie Mullins, attorney at Gowlings at this August 2015 conference. This presentation focused on the practical aspects of testimony in court.

Published in: Environment
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THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSICS

  1. 1. How would Albert EinsteinHow would Albert Einstein do as a Forensic Expert? The Art of Effectively Communicating Complex Informationy g p
  2. 2. Overview Effective Communication of Complex Forensic Data in Court a. Challenges from two perspectives – Expert & Lawyer b. Mastering the Art – Tips and Strategiesg p g c. Our Personal ExperiencesExperiences ......... . .................. . 2
  3. 3. Einstein Charlie Chaplin to Albert Einstein “Th h b th ll“They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you because no one understands you.” 3
  4. 4. Expert’s Challenges 1. Remember the adjudicator is typically not an expert, practitioner or scientist. 2. Present my complex, rock-solid analysis in a logical, simplified form for the adjudicator. 3. Identify faults in opposing expert’s reports and testimony and explain in a way the adjudicator can understand. 4
  5. 5. Lawyer’s Challenges 1. Getting the message across effectivelyacross effectively. 2. Making the expert a “good witness”good witness . 3. Preparing the expert t b h ll dto be challenged. 5
  6. 6. Strategies to Overcome Challenges E t’ Ch ll #1Expert’s Challenge #1: Adjudicator typically is not an expert, practitioner or scientistscientist Teach contaminant hydrogeology and forensics 6 Basic Geology
  7. 7. Darcy’s Law, Drilling & Wells, Fate & Transport, etc. 7
  8. 8. Groundwater Flow Maps 8
  9. 9. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Lawyer’s Challenge #1: Getting the message across in a simple and clear way To be persuasive you need to be understood Know your audience:y Who are you trying to convince? Be an educator 9
  10. 10. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Language Use plain EnglishUse plain English Provide adjudicator with a glossary Speak clearly 10
  11. 11. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Keep the adjudicator engaged Boredom = Enemy #1 Pay attention to the adjudicatorPay attention to the adjudicator Make it interesting Connect with the adjudicatorConnect with the adjudicator – conversation style 11
  12. 12. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Expert’s Challenge #2: Present my complex, rock-solid analysis in a logical, simplified form for the adjudicator. Explain concept of Conceptualp p p Site Model (CSM) Explain use of multi-disciplinaryp p y approach Guide adjudicator through development of CSM 12
  13. 13. Multi-disciplinary Approach There is only one truth! You cannot wear blinders! Do all the puzzle pieces fit? 13
  14. 14. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Lawyer’s Challenge #2: Making the Expert a “Good Witness” Understand the Big Picture Know the case Know your role Understand the process 14
  15. 15. Lay of the land In what venue will you be testifying? Court? What will it look like? Hearing room? Who will be there? Other? Etiquette? 15
  16. 16. Lay of the land: Courtroom 16
  17. 17. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Expert’s Challenge #3: Identify faults in opposing expert’s reports and testimony and explain in a way the adjudicator can understandexplain in a way the adjudicator can understand. Do all the puzzle pieces in opponent’s reports/testimony fit? 17
  18. 18. Strategies to Overcome Challenges Lawyer’s Challenge #3: Preparing the expert to be challenged.Preparing the expert to be challenged. Know your own weaknesses Mock cross-examinationsMock cross examinations 18
  19. 19. Communicating through powerful visual aids Demonstrative Evidence Use pictures, photographs, diagrams, maps Create an imprint in the mind of the decision-maker Blow up your “works of art” PowerfulPowerful Simple Creative 19
  20. 20. “Life Size” Visual Aids 20
  21. 21. Go big! 21
  22. 22. Example – Problem First Noticed
  23. 23. Example – Initial Attempt at Finding Source ? ?
  24. 24. Example – Rule Out Potentials Sources ? ??
  25. 25. Example – Investigate Likely Source & Forensics
  26. 26. Example - Groundwater Flow & Other Information
  27. 27. Example - Compilation
  28. 28. Dress Rehearsal Don’t forget to rehearse!! Where are you going to situate it in court? When are you going to refer to it?to refer to it? How are you going to present it? 28
  29. 29. Concluding Remarks - Einstein Albert Einstein “Y h t l th l f th“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” 29
  30. 30. Thank youThank you Natalie MullinsMichael Sklash Natalie Mullins Partner Gowlings Tel: 416-862-3515 Michael Sklash Senior Hydrogeologist Dragun Corporation Tel: 416-800-2140 ext 120 Tel: 416-862-3515 natalie.mullins@gowlings.com Tel: 416-800-2140 ext.120 msklash@dragun.com With assistance from: Julia Vizzaccaro Associate Tel: 416-862-4454 julia.vizzaccaro@gowlings.com 30

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