Judge Laro favors radically different approach to expert testimony

BVWireIssue #140-1
May 7, 2014

Time to go “hot tubbing,” said U.S. Tax Court Judge David Laro to chuckles in the audience at a recent presentation. No, he doesn’t mean to go soak in a warm bath. He’s talking about a very different method of giving expert testimony that he favors over traditional cross-examination.

How it works: Hot tubbing, more formally known as “concurrent witness testimony,” is a technique practiced in numerous other countries. Judge Laro, who has used it in a few cases, says he sits at a table with the two experts flanking him and the attorneys relegated to the periphery. The judge opens a conversation, asks questions of the experts, and invites them to pursue their own dialogue. Without being attacked over their credibility, they are able to have a collegial discussion about their work on the case. He believes this technique can lead to a more equitable outcome.

Judge Laro, the author of the seminal Mandelbaum decision, made his remarks at a presentation “Valuation Issues From a U.S. Tax Court Perspective” sponsored by the Business Valuation Association. More coverage of his remarks will appear in the June edition of Business Valuation Update. Judge Laro’s Mandelbaum v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 1995-255 (1995), is available at BVLaw.

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