Tag Archives: court testimony

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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Never Do This in Court! (or This!)

Court.  The most anxious, stress-filled, loss of control decision a person can make.  Even with careful preparation it can be unpleasant.  Without preparation it can be a nightmare!

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So what should you not do in Court?

  • Don’t argue with the Judge.   Even if the Judge is “wrong,” “mistaken,” or “backwards.”  Leave the arguing to the attorney.
  • Don’t argue with your attorney.  Short of catastrophic representation meltdown listen and heed your attorney’s advice.
  • Don’t argue with the other attorney.  Just answer the questions asked, explaining if necessary.  Personal jabs, smart-alleck responses and witty banter are not needed.

So that’s what you should not do, but what should you NEVER do?

  • Never give sassy responses to the Judge.  This is different from arguing. Oftentimes the Judge will have questions for the witnesses.  The responses and the manner given matter.  For instance, in a hearing where both parents sought custody and child support, the father said that he did “NOT need ANY child support nor ANY money to care for HIS kids…”  But, he then objected to having to pay any child support as he had limited income.  The Court made note of his inconsistency.
  • Never criticize the other parent for conduct that you also do.  On another occasion a parent was being especially critical of the other for “leaving” the children at day care all day and not picking them up until the “last-minute,” around 5:30.  Well, this parent had also just testified they were self-employed and could get the children at any time, because his schedule was so flexible, but did not.  This irked the Judge.
  • Never lie. (PERJURY)  You will get caught.  The truth is easy to remember. Remember, usually, it’s not the crime but the cover-up that gets you.  The very affluent husband, with a great job, testified that he was unsure of his income, but knew his expenses down to the penny.  He testified under oath that his expenses exceeded his income by over $10,000 per month.  The problem?  He had no debt. This situation of making $10,000 less than he was spending had been going on for months, if not years, but he always made payroll, carried no debt, had no loans and could not explain how this could be.  Perhaps he had a money tree out back.  The Judge imputed income and based his obligations on what he stated his expenses were and what apparently his income was.

Matthew Thompson is an Adjunct Professor- Domestic Relations at MC Law and a Family Law Lawyer.  Don’t do these things in Court if you know what’s good for you!

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the websiteThompson Law FirmYou may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

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