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Tips For Testifying In Court


Your lawyer will spend time preparing you before your day in court, and will have suggestions and advice tailored to the type of proceeding and unique facts of your case.  The following are some general suggestions that will improve your appearance and testimony.

Don’t ever guess when you are responding to a question, either from your own lawyer or from the opposing lawyer. If you do not know something, or do not remember something, say so.  If you guess, you may open yourself to possible attacks on your credibility.

Be sure that you understand each question asked, and answer only that question. If you do not understand a question, say so.  If you answer it, everyone will assume you understood what was being asked.

Do not volunteer information when testifying in court. If you are asked how many children are in your family, for example, simply give the number. Do not volunteer additional information, such as “We have two children. I wanted more, but we were unable to have a larger family.”

Talk loudly enough and clearly enough for everyone to hear and understand you. Keep your hands away from your mouth.  Don’t argue with the opposing lawyer, and never lose your temper.  You will be judged as much on your demeanor as your answers.

Be sure to look directly at the person who is asking the questions, and be as positive as you can when you answer. If your lawyer wants you to turn to the judge when answering, he or she will tell you to do so.  Tell your story in your own words and to the best of your ability.  Always keep to the point.

This is your day in court. The outcome of your case will depend, in part, on the facts you and your witnesses provide through testimony. Your lawyer will consult with you during the course of the hearing or trial. As the hearing or trial progresses, you will have the opportunity to make comments to your lawyer by a note or a whisper, but you should keep this to a minimum so as not to distract your lawyer from concentrating. This is particularly true during the testimony of witnesses.  Your lawyer must concentrate totally on each question and answer, watch the reactions of the court and the opposing counsel, and be ready to object instantly.

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