Tips on Testifying

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  • First and foremost, tell the TRUTH. Listen carefully to the questions posed to you. Be sure you understand the question before you answer it. Give an answer to the best of your ability and knowledge.
  • Let the judge know if you do not understand the question. If you do not understand the question, say so. The judge will likely ask the attorney to rephrase the question so that you can understand it.
  • Do not guess or speculate. If you do not know the answer or you cannot remember, just say so. If you give an estimate (such as with distance or time), indicate that your answer is only an estimate and not exact. On the other hand, give positive, definitive answers when you clearly remember.
  • Answer the question. Do not volunteer information unless you are specifically asked for it. You may explain your answer if you feel it is needed. If you make an error while testifying and later realize it, ask the court for permission to correct your error before you leave the witness stand. If you realize your error after you are excused from the witness stand, advise the deputy district attorney as soon as possible.
  • Dress appropriately as if you are going to a job interview. (i.e. dress shirt, slacks, sweater, conservative dress, blouse, skirt.) Please do not wear a hat, shorts, tube tops, jeans, or flip flops.
    Speak loudly and clearly. There are a lot of people in the courtroom who need to hear your testimony and understand it. Please enunciate your words and answer “yes” or “no,” rather than “uh-huh” or nodding your head. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with the jury while testifying. They want to hear what you have to say.
  • “Just the facts, ma’am.” While you may have opinions or beliefs about the case, just stick to telling the facts.
  • Do not chew gum, smoke, eat, or drink anything in the courtroom.
  • Please turn off your cell phone or pager before entering the courtroom.
  • Do not discuss the case with any other witness or juror. Avoid discussing the case in public areas such as elevators, hallways, or the cafeteria – jurors or other witnesses may be present.
  • Remain calm. Testifying in front of a lot of people can be intimidating. Your role is important to the pursuit of truth. Be courteous and do not argue with the lawyers or the judge. Do not lose your temper.
  • Stop talking if one of the attorneys objects. Wait to answer until the judge instructs you or rules on the objection.
  • Arrive to court early. Please arrive early when called to court to allow ample time for parking, going through security, finding the courtroom, speaking with the deputy district attorney, and arranging for seating.

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