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How do I Prepare to be a Court Witness?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A court witness has an important job to perform, and good preparation can be key to providing accurate, complete testimony. To prepare, a person should ensure he understands his role as a witness. He should also prepare to answer questions about the case clearly and with great attention to sticking to the facts. It may also prove helpful to learn the rules he may have to adhere to when testifying.

Part of preparing to be a court witness is understanding the witness' role. A court witness has a duty to recall and state the factual details of the case. He should not lie or embellish information. A witness has a duty to the person for whom he is testifying as well as to the justice system to furnish the facts to the best of his ability. He should also understand that his testimony could have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the case.

In preparation for his time in court, a witness usually spends at least some time going over the facts of the case. This means he makes an effort to recall events clearly and remember them in the order in which they occurred. This may help the witness to avoid appearing confused or stumbling over his answers in court. It is normal to be nervous when testifying in court, but preparing to offer clear answers may help reduce some of the anxiety.

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While recalling facts is important, a court witness should not memorize what he will say. If he does, his testimony could seem rehearsed. Additionally, he could become confused if a lawyer doesn’t ask questions in the order in which he remembers them.

A court witness should learn where the court is located and obtain directions for getting there. If he’s never been to the area before, he may drive there beforehand to avoid the possibility of getting lost on the day he has to appear; it is critical for a court witness to arrive on time. The witness should ask the lawyer for whom he’s testifying for specifics regarding where he should go when he arrives in the courthouse. In some cases, the lawyer may want to meet with the witness before entering the courtroom.

To show respect for the court, a court witness should dress in a respectful manner. Often, people recommend wearing business attire. A suit is appropriate attire, as is a dress a woman would wear to an important business meeting. Jeans, shorts, sneakers, and revealing clothing are not usually considered appropriate attire for a court witness.

There are some general rules or tips for testifying that a person should be know before entering the courtroom. A witness is typically expected to give only the facts of the case and deliver his answers in a slow and clear manner. He should not guess about what a lawyer means. If he does not understand a question, he should ask for clarification. If he does not know the answer to a question, he should generally say so.

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bear78
Post 3

The most important part about being a court witness is being truthful. I think that judges and attorneys are used to witnesses being a little nervous. Not having any nervousness and answering questions all too quickly and perfectly will actually raise concerns that the witness was trained what to say.

As long as the witness speaks the truth, keeps answers short and answers what was asked, it will be fine.

ddljohn
Post 2

@donasmrs-- Relax, you will be fine. Has the attorney prepared you? The attorney has the responsibility of witness preparation. He or she well tell you what to expect and how you should answer questions. However, no one will or should tell you what to say. A mock trial practice could also be done so that you are not nervous on the day of the trial.

The most difficult part about testifying as a witness is the cross examination part. The attorney you are working with will tell you during preparation what questions you will be asked. But you will not know the questions that will be asked during a cross examination. So a mock trial is a good idea to prepare for this segment of the trial. They can ask you random questions about the incident to see if you can answer unexpected questions on the day of the trial.

donasmrs
Post 1

I have been asked to testify in court about an incident I witnessed several weeks ago. Someone was assaulted and I had seen the accused at the store soon after the incident.

I have never been to court before and I have never testified so I'm very nervous. I hope I don't say anything wrong.

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