Testimony in Court; Answering Yes or No.

Testimony is nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Courtroom sketch: Wired.com / Norman Quebedeau

A witness’s job is to tell the truth and answer the question asked.  It is not to guess, to anticipate, to make-up, or change the story.

Judges routinely get irritated with a witness when asked a “Yes or No” question , but the answer begins with, “You see, what had happened was…”

There are 2 different sets of Rules when testifying.

1) You are called by your attorney or are a “friendly” witness. Under these circumstances you may not be asked yes or no questions of material importance. If you are, the other side may object due to “leading.”  That is asking a question which suggest the answer.

Lawyer 1: You witnessed Jimmy kissing Jane, didn’t you?

Lawyer 2: Objection. Leading.

Judge: Sustained. Don’t lead your witness.

Lawyer 1: (asked one at a time)How do you know Jimmy? How do you know Jane? On what occasions, if any, have you seen them together?

2) When you are called by the adverse lawyer or are deemed a “hostile witness” then the questioning attorney may use leading questions.

Lawyer 2: You witnessed Jimmy kissing Jane, didn’t you?

Lawyer 1: Objection. Leading.

Judge: He’s on Cross Examination. The witness may answer.

Witness: Yes. (explain if allowed)

If the question can be answered with a Yes or a No, then you as a witness need to answer Yes or No. The Court will allow you to explain your answer, if necessary.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and can handle the truth.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

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