St. George Attorney: How do I make a Good Witness?
Question: What should I remember in order to be the best possible witness?
St. George Attorney Answer:
Remember that the trial key to winning your case. You can’t be perfect, but this is your only chance in court, and it is important to make it count. These are some tips to prepare you to be the best witness you can be as you answer questions from both attorneys:
- Study your interrogatory responses. Get access to your deposition transcript and study that as well. Be sure that your answers and testimony are consistent throughout the case.
- Don’t bring up insurance. If anything about insurance is brought up into the case, the judge will probably declare a mistrial, and you will go back to waiting for a trial date again.
- Dress professionally. Don’t wear anything gaudy, bright, or lots of makeup or jewelry. Dress simply and in a professional way, as though you are going to a job interview or church function.
- Look over your medical documentation so you have a review or picture in your mind of the dates you went to which doctors or treatments, and how your injury progressed.
- Don’t exaggerate any points. Exaggerating anything about your injury or situation will only hurt your case.
- Don’t be sarcastic or comical. A court-room is not the place to be funny. It is alright to laugh if something comical occurs, but it is not appropriate for you to be a comedian.
- Be polite to all parties in the courtroom. You will appear credible and likeable to the jury if you are courteous. Address the judge by “Your Honor,” and the lawyers by “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
- Maintain your composure. A defense attorney’s easiest tactic to winning a case is to cause you to lose your temper. If you are getting flustered and being badgered by the lawyer for the defense, be courteous. Your calm demeanor will work in your favor with the jury.
- Listen intently to all questions as you are being examined. Do not anticipate the question or answer before a question is complete.
- Make eye contact with the jurors. They will find you more trustworthy if you can look them right in the eye. This is very important.
- Speak clearly. Answer with “Yes,” and “No,” and not with answers like “Yeah,” “Uh huh,” or “Mm hmm.”
- Do not look to your attorney when being cross-examined. It seems suspicious. You are the witness. Just be honest and answer simply, in the best way you can.
- Be yourself, even if you are nervous. The jury will expect you to be nervous. You will loosen up a bit as the case gets going.
- Again, be honest!