Having a reliable witness who can remain cool under pressure can make or break any trial. Since this is much easier said than done, it’s imperative that successful attorneys learn to reproduce and instill a sense of confidence in each witness. By organizing a procedural approach to witness preparation, you can remove much of the unfamiliarity and subsequent fear that comes along with the intimidating task of using witness testimony to your advantage.
- Find a Good Match
Before you do anything else, take some time to explore potential witnesses. First, figure out which individuals involved in your case can or should take the stand. Then, find any necessary expert witnesses, such as doctors or scientists, who can vouch for the accuracy of arguments that require specialized knowledge. One of the easiest ways to do this is to enlist the help of expert witness services who can match you with a qualified witness who is not only familiar with court proceedings but also comfortable with them.
- Contact Each Witness
Once you’ve decided upon your witnesses, reach out to them as soon as possible. Initiating and maintaining adequate communication between your counsel and your witnesses ensures that witnesses have as much time as they need to prepare and that they feel both valued and appropriately accommodated.
- Make a Plan
Create an outline of responsibilities and expectations regarding witness testimony, then share that plan with the witnesses themselves. Keeping them involved in the status of depositions, motions, and other important case decisions ensures that nothing will catch them off guard while on the stand.
- Learn Each Witness
No two witnesses possess the same personalities, mindsets, or benefits, so your approach to breaking in a witness should vary from person to person. Getting to know your witnesses makes this easier, as you can learn to adapt your plans and expectations to fit their individual strengths and weaknesses.
- Practice Everything
As with anything, practice makes perfect when it comes to effective witness testimony. You should reproduce the setting and atmosphere of the upcoming trial, allowing witnesses to prepare for potential intimidation tactics or unexpected arguments. That being said, you should cap practice once you feel your witness is comfortable with questioning, as too much practice creates a rehearsed sound that invalidates the authenticity of witness remarks.
Calling a witness to the stand should provide a boost for your case, but inadequate preparation can leave witnesses vulnerable to attack from opposing counsel or even their own minds. Simplify the witness preparation process by breaking it down into more manageable steps that, together, ensure a successful witness testimony.