Tag Archives: testify

Tips for Witnesses.

Today’s advice is for potential witnesses.

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#1 Don’t refuse to talk to the attorney if they call to talk to you, unless it’s smart to not to.

You don’t have to speak, but if you do you may can avoid a subpoena or having to testify later.

#2 Don’t try to refuse a subpoena.

It’s tacky. Refusing to touch the papers does not invalidate service.

#3 Don’t be rude.

I get you have a job, but so do I. I attempted to call you weeks ago and do this politely. You refused to answer or speak. You refused to call back.

#4 Don’t lie to get out of testifying.

It’s tacky too. And dishonest.

Matthew Thompson is a divorce attorney and just wants the facts.

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Do Not Answer a Question with “Sure.”

Testifying in Court can be hard. It causes stress, anxiety, and it is seldom a great experience. However, some responses should be eliminated from your vocabulary.

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(adjective) surer, surest.

1.  free from doubt as to the reliability, character, action, etc., of something:

to be sure of one’s data.

2.  confident, as of something expected:

sure of success.

3.  convinced, fully persuaded, or positive:

to be sure of a person’s guilt.
(Slang definitions & phrases for sure)
Yes; certainlySure, I’ll support you (1842+)
While a slang use for sure could mean yes, it does not sound like it in Court.
NOT GOOD
Q: Mr. Witness, don’t you agree that telling your child that the other parent is a deceitful, hateful train-wreck is inappropriate.
A: Sure.
It sounds dismissive. It could be treated as a “whatever” response. You do not want to create an impression with the Court that you do not take the matter seriously.
BETTER 
Q: Mr. Witness, don’t you agree that telling your child that the other parent is a deceitful, hateful train-wreck is inappropriate.
A: Yes, I did. It was wrong. I regret it. I will not discuss grown up things with the child again. I’m sorry for that.
This response is not dismissive. It answers the question. It demonstrates remorse and that the conduct will not repeat itself.
BEST*
Q: Mr. Witness, don’t you agree that telling your child that the other parent is a deceitful, hateful train-wreck is inappropriate.
A: Yes, I agree that would be inappropriate, but I never did that, nor would I.
This response is the best. It answers the question directly and advises the Court you did not do the conduct being complained of. (This response is only possible if it is the truth.*)
Of course you can say the word sure and use it in other responses, but it should likely not be a one-word response.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney in Mississippi and is sure that you should not answer a question with “sure” most of the time.
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Witnesses, Facts and What you are Told.

You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

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Testifying as a witness can be intimidating and scary. However, you do not have to let it get to you. Your job as a witness is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you are testifying as a witness it is usually because you know something about the case and can help provide factual information. Your job as a witness, however is not to guess, speculate or even give your opinion, usually.

To be a good witness answer the question asked. Answer it with a “yes” or “no” or “I don’t know.” You may explain if you need to. Be direct. It is usually wise to only answer what is asked and it is also wise not to assume “facts” if you do NOT have personal knowledge of the underlying situation.

Also, someone telling you something does not make it a fact within your personal knowledge, even if they seem like they are telling the truth.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi and reminds you to stick to the facts, just the facts.

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