4 Tips to Prepare for Trial Testimony

guest-blogger-banner-1The following is a guest blog by Frank R. Molinari, SRA.gavel & scale

Appraisers work best through the planning and debriefing process. This is particularly useful when they are prepping to testify in court.

Here are four tips appraisers can use before and after their testimony to reduce surprises in the courtroom:

Hold a mock trial. This is a time when appraisers or their teams can eliminate errors in statements or math before stepping into the witness box, or before the final draft of the appraisal report is completed. After appraisers review their report, they should recruit co-workersto rigorously grill them on the merits – and to serve as judge, prosecutor and jury.

Think like a lawyer. Appraisers need to think like an opposing attorney whenever they write an appraisal report. Each paragraph should be vetted as if it were one day going to court. After the report is finished, appraisers should ask co-workers to examine each paragraph. The appraiser then can defend areas of the appraisal that may be challenged.

Debrief. This process is a good way of helping to ensure the validity of future work. After testifying in court, appraisers should review what went right or wrong in the testimony and report. They should review court transcripts and video depositions, most of which can be obtained on DVD. Watching the videos can help enormously in preparing for future court appearances.

Learn by example. Appraisers who haven’t testified in court or need a refresher should seek out assistance from other appraisers heading to court. They should attend their trials, observe their testimony and pay attention to the trial process. After the trial, appraisers can ask for their opinions on what went right or wrong.

Calculated and thorough preparation for trial testimony is the key to ensuring that a case is not only well presented, but well received.


Frank R. Molinari, SRA, has spent 36 years in the real estate profession, including 32 years as a professional real estate appraiser. frank 2012 2He has reviewed and prepared hundreds of reviews and valuations related to commercial, residential, agricultural and mixed-use properties. Molinari presented along with Louis J. Garone, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, the presentation “Mock Trial – Prepping for Testimony” at the 2016 Appraisal Institute Annual Conference.