Information for Witnesses
The following information is offered to assist you in becoming the most effective witness possible:
TELL THE TRUTH
Naturally, this is the most important point of all. If you tell the truth accurately and without exaggeration, your testimony will be perceived as believable.
Prior to coming to court, mentally review the things that you will be testifying about – try to picture the scene, the people involved, the objects there, the distances involved, and the events. However, don’t try to memorize what you are going to say, but come to court with an accurate picture of the events in question.
A neat appearance and proper dress reflect your respect for the court.
RELAX, BE YOURSELF, AND REMAIN CALM AND COURTEOUS
Even if the attorney questioning you seems rude or makes you angry, remember to stay calm and don’t lose your temper. Do not argue with the attorneys or the judge.
BE SERIOUS AND RESPECTFUL IN THE COURTROOM
Always address the judge as “Your Honor”. Never chew gum, smoke, or read newspapers in the courtroom. Avoid laughing or talking in the courtroom. No beepers or cell phones are allowed (unless on vibrate). Noise disrupts testimony and interferes with the electronic recording devices in the courtroom. These items will be confiscated by the court officers if they are heard.
TAKE YOUR TIME AND SPEAK LOUDLY AND CLEARLY
Give the question as much thought as you need to understand it and to form your answer. You must always give spoken answers so that the recording system can record your answer. If you are interrupted in the middle of an answer, you may ask the judge for permission to finish. If you do not know the answer to a question, do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”. If you do not remember something, it is perfectly proper to state “I don’t remember”.
FREELY ADMIT YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHERS ABOUT THE CASE
If a defense attorney asks you if you have talked to anyone about the case, tell the truth. It is perfectly proper to have discussed a case with police, the Assistant District Attorney, or others before you were called to testify.
AVOID JURORS DURING RECESSES
You must never approach a juror even on a matter that is unrelated to the trial. Avoid laughing or talking about the case in the Court House, at lunch, or anywhere that you may be overheard.
AFTER TESTIFYING, DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR TESTIMONY WITH OTHERS
After you have testified, you will generally be permitted to remain in the courtroom for the remainder of the trial. This shows the jury that you are interested in the outcome of the case. After you have testified, do not discuss your testimony with other witnesses who have not yet testified. Such discussions may violate a court order and damage the case. If you are going to remain in the courtroom after testifying, never make remarks or comments to an opposing party, anyone there on their behalf or during someone else’s testimony.