It takes months, and in some cases years, of litigating to get to the final showdown: a trial. Finally, the litigant has his or her opportunity to plead his or her case to the Court, and tell their side of the story in full detail. Because the outcome of the case will be decided by the Judge after hearing all of the testimony and being provided with all relevant proof, it is extremely important to be prepared to testify at trial. The following pointers can help you avoid damaging results during trial.
Pointers for Testifying at a Trial / Hearing
- Think as though you are having a conversation with your attorney and no one else is in the room- keep it natural- speak normally without using big words.
- Keep your testimony simple- as if you are talking to a young child. Speak slowly and keep your tone steady.
- Remember that the Judge is watching you and your demeanor- try not to be overly emotional in front of the Judge.
- Keep your answers simple and to the point- don=t ramble on or repeat.
Handling a Cross Examination
- Say what you have to say in the least amount of words possible. Do not open the door for the opposing attorney to attack or invalidate what you saying. The more you say, the more ammunition you are giving opposing counsel to attack you.
- Count to three before you answer each question. This will take opposing counsel's momentum away.
- Act as though you are speaking to your own children- speak in simple terms.
- Do not argue with the opposing attorney. Just answer the question.
- Keep eye contact with opposing counsel and do not look at the Judge when responding.
- Do not speak directly to the Judge unless he speaks to you and asks you a question.