The Importance of Witness Preparation
Witnesses in a jury trial are the face of your case. The weight of their testimony will affect your case just as much as any other aspect of the trial, and is often the most important factor of your case. Witness preparation can make or break your case, but it often doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.
In this article, we’ll discuss the witness preparation process, and why it should be a point of focus in your case.
Fitting The Narrative
When crafting a case, it’s important to have a consistent and well-supported narrative to have a chance at winning. Lawyers spend copious amounts of time stitching together the facts and personalities into a cohesive argument for the judge and jury. The witness has to be a part of that narrative and understand what the larger argument will be.
By no means should the witness be encouraged to be untruthful, but having them understand the larger argument can guide their performance.
Practicing For Questions
Witnesses often become flustered when they are being cross-examined. A good witness preparation system tries to limit this possibility by exposing them to the types of questions they may face in the courtroom. In addition, it helps to walk through answers they may deliver in these situations, so they don’t look untrustworthy to the jury.
If a jury doesn’t trust the witness, it will hurt the case tremendously. It is important to note, though, that over-practicing can be bad as well. Finding a good balance is key.
Making The Witness Comfortable
Being a witness in a trial is an uncomfortable experience for most people. Lawyers have to prep witnesses for the feeling of being a witness, and try to make them feel comfortable. Of course, most people will never look completely natural in that type of situation, but helping them relax can be a big help. Listening to their feedback about certain questions and answers will also help tighten the entire case argument. Open communication is the best strategy in these situations.
Also, making suggestions for attire is an important step. Looking disheveled or inappropriate for the occasion can change jury perception before the first question.