Tips for Testifying and Behaving in Court
1. Listen to the question and make sure you understand it before you start formulating your answer.
2. If you do not understand the question, do not answer it. Instead ask for clarification
3. Once the question has been completely asked and you understand it, answer the question:
a. Do not lie
b. Do not raise your voice
c. Do not fidget, or do things that make you appear blase or uninterested
d. Do not get argumentative
e. If the question calls for a yes or no response, give a yes or no response. Only explain your response if asked a “why” questions. Your attorney can always seek explanation on redirect examination.
f. Do not guess
i. If you have a general idea of the correct answer but are not sure, it is fair to give a range (i.e., the cost was around $19,000.00; or the date was sometime in mid-November)
ii. If you do not know, answer that you do not know. Better to appear ignorant than to answer inaccurately and appear a liar.
g. Do not go beyond the question (do not volunteer information that the question does not call for)
a. If you are testifying and you hear someone object, stop talking immediately.
b. If the judge sustains the objection, do not try to answer the question. Simply wait for the next question to be asked
c. If the judge overrules the objection, you must answer the question
5. Courtroom demeanor
a. Everyone (the judge, the other party, the other party’s attorney; court personnel) is watching you
b. Behave in ways that make you appear reasonable and calm
c. Do not show strong reaction or emotion
d. When court is in session, do not talk unless the judge is asking you a question or you are on the stand testifying. If the judge asks a question for someone else, do not volunteer the answer. If you need to tell me something write it down. If you furiously write notes, it makes you look manic.