Tag Archives: courtroom

HOW NOT TO TESTIFY IN COURT!

Courtroom testimony is nerve-wracking.  You’re under oath, in the spotlight and half of the time you are being questioned by someone who is likely out to get you.  However, there is one thing to NOT do.

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Do NOT interrupt.

Do NOT interrupt the person examining you. Do not interrupt whoever is asking the question and do NOT interrupt the Judge.  It never ends well, even if what you have to say is very relevant and important. Wait. Say it when asked or when explaining your answer.  Also, do NOT just volunteer information.  A Question is asked, an Answer is given.  If there is a moment of silence or a pause while the next question is being formulated there is no need to fill in the silence with talking.  Be still.

Read more on testimonial war stories here and child testimony here.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Litigation Attorney in Mississippi and does his best to not interrupt the Judge.

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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Pleading the 5th in Divorce

“I plead the 5th!”

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. –5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In divorce cases pleading the 5th is not often invoked.  The reason is divorce cases are civil matters, by their nature.  Not civil in the sense that everyone is always nice, but civil as opposed to criminal.

When Can you Plead the 5th in a Divorce Matter?

When answering the question would involve you admitting to a crime.  Interestingly, adultery, or habitual fornication rather, is a crime in Mississippi. It is rarely prosecuted, but is a crime nonetheless.  Due to this you may invoke the 5th. However, you have not outsmarted the system.  Pleading the 5th in a civil matter creates a presumption that you did what was asked.  Or, at least the Chancellor can use it against you.

So, how does this play out? (envision a Courtroom)

Attorney:  Mr. Smith, it’s true isn’t is that you have committed adultery during your marriage to Mrs. Smith?

Mr. Smith:  I plead the 5th.

Attorney:  Let the record reflect that Mr. Smith has invoked his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination as it relates to a question about adultery and the Court may make an adverse inference against Mr. Smith for doing so.

Judge:  Duly noted.

Why do it then?  The witness does not have to disclose  the dirty details, name names, places, locations, or positions.

Pleading the 5th may not stop you from getting a divorce, but it may prevent bringing other persons down with you.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce and Domestic Relations Attorney in the Magnolia State. Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer 

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Courtroom Etiquette; It’s NOT what you see on TV.

Ben Matlock and Perry Mason were always able to berate the real killer on the witness stand until he confessed or it just so happened that the real killer attended the Trial, sitting in the audience, just to watch, only to see himself implicated and arrested before he could leave.

Ben Matlock

However, real Court is not like TV Court.  Lawyers for the most part do not have surprise witnesses that no one knows of and the real killer does not attend and watch from the gallery.  Though Court is usually open to the public, rarely does anyone other than a family member attend.

Lawyers are usually held to a reasonable standard of Courtroom Etiquette and witnesses and parties are even more-so.

Courtroom Etiquette includes;

  • Dressing appropriately. (conservative or church attire is acceptable, shorts, sleeveless tops, & hats are not)
  • Acting appropriately. (No guffawing, exclaiming, gum chewing, loud talking in the audience)
  • Waiting for the Question to be asked before Answering. (All is being typed by the Court reporter)
  • Answering “Yes” or “No,” and then explaining if necessary.
  • Not Shouting or Yelling.
  • Not Cursing.
  • Not Lying.
  • Not Faking Emotion.

Court is emotional.  You can have and show emotion, but the Court is going to judge the level of emotion shown based on the issues before it and will take into account stage fright.  The Judge also knows, more often than not, when you are faking it.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Litigation Attorney in Mississippi; know when to hold, when to fold them, know when to walk away and when to run…

Follow the blog: #BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law case or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms