Judge’s Advice: Bulletproof Your Witnesses
Today’s post by Judge Primeaux on his Chancery Court blog notes the importance of preparing witnesses. He notes, “There are two kinds of witnesses: the kinds who help your case; and the kinds who hurt it. You want every witness called by you to be in the former category.” He correctly points out that the attorney him or herself should be directly involved in witness preparation, but I believe that the paralegal can provide essential groundwork for the preparation process – groundwork that supports both the witness and the attorney. Indeed, Chapter 7 of The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional is devoted to trial preparation. There I suggest that witness preparation should go beyond simply focusing on what the witness will say,
Frequently trial preparations focus on what the witnesses or parties are going to say. The well-prepared legal team will also consider everything they can about the witnesses themselves. Include a short biography of the witness or party and notes about impressions obtained by the attorney, you or investigators during interviews or depositions, in the witness section of the trial notebook. Again, much additional information can be obtained during the trial through observation. This is another opportunity for you to be the attorney’s second set of eyes and ears.
When discussing witness preparation, especially the client as a witness, I note that at the very least preparation must go beyond what the witness says to how they say it and how they are perceived by the jury. Judge Primeaux’s post covers this territory very well and I recommend reading it in full. In fact, I recommend clicking through the links he provides to additional pointers for more effective trial presentations.