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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Its My Trial Today. What Do I Need To Know About Court And About Testifying In Court.

Judges are professional lie detectors. Thats what they do. Its their job day in and day out. For years they have been weighing and judging the credibility of witnesses. They can smell deception from a mile away. If you believe you can come into court and snow a judge think again. Your best bet when testifying in court is candor, honesty, sincerity. Be real and be genuine. If you have messed up own the mistake and come clean and tell the judge how and what you are doing to fix the mistake. If you do this you will find credibility. If you don't you risk not only losing credibility but you also risk being found in contempt and hauled away in handcuffs like the opposing party in a case I tried not too long ago. The opposing party was caught lying on the stand. Not only did he go to jail but had to pay attorneys fees as well. You never go wrong telling the truth and being real!

When you are on the witness stand make sure you have the proper demeanor. Attitude can say a lot about you. Most of our communication is nonverbal. Make sure you are polite, courteous, and respectful to the judge and the opposing attorney. Don't let yourself become frustrated or flustered. Stay cool, calm, and collected. When the opposing attorney is asking you questions listen carefully to the question you are asked and answer only the question you are asked. Attorneys know how to talk and certainly know how to ask questions to find out what they want to know. Don't volunteer information that you were not asked about. If a point needs to be elaborated on then your own attorney will ask you to explain.

Make sure you dress appropriately for court. If you are not sure what would be appropriate to wear make sure to ask your attorney. Court is not a place to make a very loud or extreme fashion statement. Especially in custody cases you want to be conservative in what you wear and in your appearance. Generally speaking exposed body piercings are a bad idea as well as extreme, vulgar, or violent looking tattoos. There was a case where a party got on the witness stand and had an exposed tattoo of a bullet on his arm with his ex-wife's name tattooed inside the bullet. I would have counseled him to cover it up. 

Generally speaking what other people say or have told you is not admissible in court. The major exception to this is what the opposing party has said. These type of statements are called hearsay. They don't have to be verbal statements. They apply to texts, emails, or other documents. As a general rule when you testify in court you cannot tell the judge what someone else has said unless it is the opposing party.

Make sure your attorney meets with you before court and goes over with you what they will ask and what they expect the opposing attorney to ask you. Ask them what to wear. Ask them if the judge has any pet peeves. Make sure you know where the court house is, what time to be there, and what you can bring with you into the court house. Make sure you know what to expect and are prepared to testify. 

Judges like witnesses and parties who are reasonable, rational, level headed, respectful, truthful, cooperative, candid, and who look respectable. Witnesses or parties who lose their cool, get frustrated, raise their voice, are combative, speak with an attitude or tone, or who are not honest with the judge lose credibility. Don't split hairs. Call a spade a spade. If you slipped up admit it quickly and most of all let the judge hear it from you first instead of not mentioning it until the opposing attorney asks you about it.  From the minute you walk into court judges are sizing you up. You want to make a favorable impression. When you don't make a favorable impression or you lose credibility it is very bad for your case and will very likely effect the outcome of the case.  Hopefully you won't find yourself in court but if you do these tips will help you out.

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