Finding Effective Experts
Nichols Consulting engages in the national practice of providing expert consultation in cases of falsely alleged child sexual abuse. Unlike mental health professionals who hold themselves out as experts in virtually any area where someone is willing to retain them, our mental health and legal consultants practice exclusively in this area.
Providing forensic consulting services with respect to child sexual abuse allegations requires a narrow area of focus complimented by broad experience and an astute knowledge of the appropriate research. Perhaps the most useful role that the mental health professional may play in assisting an attorney is in the role of a consultant. Unlike the expert hired to render a second opinion or provide other testimony, the consultant is not expected to render impartial opinions or to provide any testimony. The consultant is employed to assist the attorney in refuting the testimony of adverse experts and providing testimony to the advantage of the falsely accused.
Nichols Consulting will often have specific recommendations for testifying experts, however, our national experience demonstrates that the "best expert" is the state's expert that you effectively cross-examine. We are very experienced at helping you in that regard.
An expert hired as a consultant may not function in any other role in the case. A consultant, by definition, is an advocate and thus can no longer claim the objectivity that is required to perform an evaluation or the detachment that is essential to answering "hypothetical" questions.
Attorneys and clients find employing Nichols Consulting to be a cost- and human-effective investment. Through consultation, problems in case presentation are addressed before they develop.
We review reports and other documents and advise the attorney with respect to the weaknesses that they contain. We read depositions, statements, and other documents. We attend depositions and trials. Our consultants prepare questions for the attorney to ask, as well as follow-up questions.
It has become a fairly common practice to retain us to assist in jury selection in critical cases. How important is it to know the forensic strengths and weaknesses of a civil or criminal case involving the false allegation of child sexual abuse? Many attorneys have discovered, it is very important.
Nichols Consulting also provides the very valuable service of presenting to the attorney the current research which supports his or her position. Our consultants have an instinct for the weaknesses of the opposition's argument and will be able to produce the research and other information to arm the attorney.
Our consultants are asked to interview or assess the client, not to offer any testimony, but rather, to assess the weaknesses that are likely to develop if he is to testify. We have prepared accused clients for examination and assisted in the selection and preparation of other experts who have offered testimony.
There is an added benefit to retaining Nichols Consulting. Attorneys are not limited by geography in attempting to secure an expert consultant. Since in most cases we will rely on reports, documentary evidence and conversations, E-Mail, FAX machines, telephones and overnight mail make consulting cross-country as easy as consulting cross-town. This also assists the attorney who practices in smaller jurisdictions, or in jurisdictions where mental health professionals are reluctant to vigorously criticize their colleagues. The out-of-town consultant will tend to do his or her work in a more "vigorous" manner since there is no connection between the consultant and those whose work is being reviewed.
The key to retaining an effective consultation is to retain it at the earliest possible stage. Correcting strategic errors is much more costly than preventing them! Sadly, attorneys, like all professionals, often fall into a "comfortable routine" with respect to how they handle cases. Having a consultant at your side will most likely result in being told when you are approaching a clinical cliff. The sooner you know the dangers, the better you will be at avoiding them.
[For more information see False Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse: Attorney & Client Desk Reference ].