Who Should Testify

Can expert testimony help put an executive’s income/lifestyle into perspective?

Consider using an executive head hunter to testify as an expert to explain the CEO market. The expert can explain why it makes sense for the board and the shareholders to authorize perks: The corporate jet, albeit expensive and glamorous, enables more face time with senior company employees in different locales and is an efficient use of the CEO’s scarce and valuable time. The chauffeured limo allows the CEO to have conference calls and read reports during the morning commute. The expert can also educate the jury about other perceived corporate excesses like the often misunderstood golden parachute that took hold during the merger wave of 1980s when CEOs had to choose between merger opportunities benefiting the shareholders and keeping their own jobs.

Should a defendant testify in his own case to help explain income and lifestyle?

Consider allowing your client to testify. Many defense lawyers abhor this idea and often for good reason; corporate bigwigs can come across as arrogant, entitled and pompous. They are used to barking orders. There is a real risk that their attitude may hurt their case. On the other hand, the best way to humanize your client may be for him to take the stand. He has a story to tell: how he struggled to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, his successes and failures, being a husband, father, son, brother — a story that offers the jury an opportunity to connect with him. If your CEO can withstand being beaten up by the prosecutor without admitting to any wrongdoing, you will have advanced your cause. If the jurors feel he’s been humiliated or even humbled, their urge to punish further will diminish and their protective instincts may even kick in, allowing them to see your client for who he really is, rather than as a stereotype.