In How to Win Your Case, Dr. Thomas Curtis relies on his experience as an expert witness as a psychiatrist in child custody and workman’s compensation cases to give advice to those contemplating or pursuing litigation.
Curtis’s book is arranged in one to three page snippets covering such topics as how to choose an attorney, the role of a psychiatric expert witness, comportment during a deposition, strategies for a settlement, presenting the essence of a case, and projecting likeability and credibility. The latter, he notes, is crucial to the outcome of a case: “If you cannot be believed as a witness, you cannot prevail in your case.”
Curtis’s primary advice concerning litigation is “not to do it.” The litigant needs to realize, he writes, that he’s putting himself “out there to be attacked by the other side,” and the resulting stress can cause medical and psychological symptoms from “depression, anxiety, panic, insomnia” to “headaches… constipation and diarrhea.” He suggests that litigants pursue therapy for support during their cases.
As knowledgeable as he may be as an expert witness, Curtis appears to have written his book without the input of an attorney, and this omission shows. For instance, he states that the opposing attorney may use the litigant’s deposition to expose inconsistencies, but doesn’t reassure litigants that they will have the opportunity to read their deposition long before the hearing to make corrections or refresh their memory. He advises litigants on how to handle a rephrased question or request for speculation, but doesn’t seem to know that the litigant’s attorney can dispose of such questions with standard objections. Curtis also relies on readers’ memories of publicized court cases, leaving them wondering about such points as why the “LAPD witnesses were discredited” in O.J Simpson’s case.
While Curtis’ book makes some helpful points, revision with an eye to correcting such details would give it much greater credibility and appeal.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.