In-court testimony is a critical part of our judicial system, and is integral in insuring just and accurate verdicts. When you are going to court there are some simple things you should avoid saying to help improve your outcomes and guarantee a just verdict. The following advice is meant to help in a variety of situations. For specific advice regarding your situation, contact a law office in your area.
Do Not Memorize What You Will Say
It is very important to speak in your own words and avoid memorizing what you plan to say. Memorizing your answers and parts of your testimony can make your testimony sound rehearsed and unconvincing. There are some things you can do to avoid sounding as though your answers have been coached and rehearsed.
- Be yourself.
- Prior to trial go over in your own mind the matter about which you will be questioned.
- Refresh your memory by trying to picture the places, objects, and people that are relevant to the case.
Do Not Talk About the Case
People who are participating in the case, like potential jurors, witnesses, and others who may be called to give testimony may be present in the same public areas where you will be. Because of this it is important to remember to not discuss the case with anyone. Remember that your behavior outside the courtroom has the potential to impact what happens during the trial if it is observed by jurors or others.
Do Not Become Angry
Anger can make an individual seem less objective, emotionally unstable, or like they are exaggerating. Even if you feel as though you are being questioned in a discourteous way, it is important to keep your temper and always remain courteous. Sarchasm can be as detrimental as anger, and it is important to maintain the respect of the judge and the jury.
Do Not Exaggerate
Overly broad or generalized statements will often need to be corrected. Responding carefully and accurately is important, even if it takes you time to think of the answer. It is also important to avoid being lead to answering statements that engage in exaggeration. Be careful responding to questions that begin, “Wouldn’t you agree that…?”. Make sure the explanation is in your own words.
Avoid Statements That Cannot Be Amended
Avoid making definitive statements regarding what you recall about situations unless you are certain. Avoid phrases like, “That’s all of the conversation” or, “Nothing else happened”. Instead “That’s all I recall,” or “That’s all I remember happening” are phrases that allow you to amend your statement if you remember more details after further thought or another question.
Do Not Volunteer Information
Answer the questions asked of you without volunteering information that is not asked for. Remain clear and succinct in your answers. The judge and the jury are interested in what you have observed or personally know about. It is important to not give your conclusions and opinions, and to not state what someone else told you, unless you are specifically asked.
Do Not Talk About Your Testimony
After a person has testified in court, he or she should not discuss with other witnesses what was said during the testimony until after the case is completely over. Do not ask other witnesses about their testimony and do not volunteer information about your own testimony. Doing so could jeopardize the outcome of the case.
While the above advice focuses on what should not be said in court, it also helps to illuminate what can be said in court. Honest, direct answers, given at the appropriate times, are always the best approach in the courtroom. Avoid stress and frustration by learning the above things you should not say in court.