When Testifying, Stay Calm and in Control
Many people understandably fret, worry, or are concerned or scared about testifying or speaking under oath in court. Most people rarely go to court. The formal courtroom can be intimidating. Judges wear black robes and sit perched high on their benches; well-dressed lawyers, bailiffs and deputies with firearms sit or stand on one side of the bar closest to the Judge’s bench and everyone else sits on the other side of the bar.
If you are a party to the lawsuit – that is, you sued someone or someone sued you, or else you are a witness – the courtroom setting itself can be nerve-wracking. Often, you face long dockets, waiting for hours before your case is called. You sit while the court is attending to other business and while other matters are heard before yours. In the courtroom, you can’t text, call, or use your cell phone. Since few have legal training or experience, often they have difficulty understanding the rules of the proceedings and may be mystified when different witnesses contradict each other, which happens regularly.
In spite of the surroundings and your qualms and fears, when testifying in court, stay calm, stay in control, listen carefully to the questions that are asked, and answer them.
Remember, usually, there are two sides to a story. Your lawyer will ask questions so you can tell your side of the story or speak under oath about what you saw or sensed at the incident or event. The opposing lawyer will try to poke holes in your story and try to make it seem less probable.
Remember, too, that different people may have different recollections about the events and facts. Don’t be upset, show contempt, or make faces or gestures when others on the opposing side tell their version of the story that contradicts yours. Your lawyer may call you back to the witness stand and ask you other questions to clarify or explain why the other person’s testimony should not be believed.
Regardless, stay calm and stay in control. Be respectful.
If you show anger, lose your temper, smart-off, argue with the lawyers or the judge, act as a know-it-all, behave as if you are entitled to special treatment because of who you know or who you are, play one-upmanship, cry excessively, scream, are fawning, or just annoying, you undercut your testimony – and if you are a party, you hurt your own case. Be respectful regardless of the questions that are asked or the tone or manner in which they are asked. Lawyers are allowed much leeway in asking questions.
Again, stay calm, stay in control, and be respectful.
Testifying can be stressful. At The Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC, we can help you prepared. To learn more about our services, or to schedule a consultation with Nashville attorney Perry A. Craft, please call 615-953-3808 or fill out our contact form.
Perry A. Craft has dedicated his life to helping people in need. He has tried, settled, or resolved numerous civil and criminal cases in State and Federal courts, and has represented teachers and administrators before school boards, administrative judges, and the state Board of Education. Learn more about Attorney Craft.