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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoMr. Sedivy wants YOU to enjoy history!


American Government
-
Testifying in Court -
Trial Tactics Used by Attorneys


TRIAL TACTICS USED BY ATTORNEYS

Attorneys will:
Mispronounce or mis-state your name.
Ignore it and answer the question just asked. Before taking the witness stand you will be asked by the clerk to state your name and spell it for the Court. The attorney who continually mispronounces your name will lose credibility with the jury.
Try to get you to argue with him/her so you lose your composure. Your polite demeanor and calm disposition will win the hearts of the jury.
Deliberately misstate some of your previous testimony and get you to agree with their version. This may cause you to become confused and disoriented. Listen to the question and do not allow the attorneys to put their words in your mouth.
Quote some of your previous testimony and then ask you, "Why did you leave that out of your report?"

If you find yourself in this spot, answer truthfully. There is a good reason for everything you do and you cannot catch everything. Your response may be similar to the following: "I forgot," "It did not occur to me," or "I put in the information I knew was important at the time."
Cause you not to look at the jury, focusing your attention on him/her while you are testifying.
Quite often an attorney will get up from his/her seat and move to a position that will cause you to stare at him/her while answering questions. When this happens, look at him/her as you start your narrative answer and finish your answer while looking at the jury.

Try to get you to do two (2) things at once:
Draw a picture and answer a question. If you are asked a question while you are drawing a diagram, stop drawing, face the attorney and answer the question. If you did not hear the whole question, say "I did not hear all of the question you asked."

Question your professional experience and training. Anticipate this. Take a written record of your training experience or a resume with you to court.
Attack your credibility as a witness through some error in your report and/or exploiting your failure to recollect the facts of the case. Remain calm; innocent misrecollection is not uncommon.
Interrupt your answer to their question by asking you another question. If you are interrupted for any reason, stop talking. Likewise, do not interrupt the attorney before s/he has finished asking his/her questions.

Get you to try playing attorney by subtly placing you in position to:
Refuse to directly answer the attorney's question(s).
Give evasive answers
Pose your own question(s).
Avoid trying to be something you are not - another attorney. Avoid giving flippant, clever, stupid, dull, witless, candid, clumsy, obtuse, smart aleck, witty, imaginative, inventive, or sarcastic answers.
Try to get you to speculate or testify to things that you did not actually see, hear or otherwise experience.
You are not there to guess. You are there to tell what you know. Avoid answers such as: I suppose so "I think so," or "If you say that is correct."
Try to get you to "fill in the gaps" by giving testimony for which you were not specifically asked.
Avoid volunteering information. After you have completely answered the question, stop talking.
Try to get you to guess the answer to technical questions related to your field. Even if you think you are right, never guess.
Make a statement during cross-examination that is not a question and wait a moment or two to see if you'll react to it in front of the jury.
Avoid falling for this trick. If there is not a question posed to you, say nothing.
Use words like "generally," "slightly," "frequent," and "often" to avoid being specific.
These words can mean different things to different people. Make sure that your answer Is specific, regardless of the attorney's trial tactics.
Use words that you may not understand in an effort to embarrass you.
If you do not fully understand the question, do not answer it. Say: "I do not understand the question." Or," I do not understand the word.
Treat you so nicely that you will agree with him/her on the next question. Listen to the entire question and understand it before answering.
Talk to you during breaks so that you will not see him/her as an adversary.
Pretend to be reading to you from a document of some unknown origin and then ask you a question beginning with the phrase, "Is it not true that." Avoid believing, "If it is on that paper, it must be true." The document may or may not have anything to do with the case.

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Trial and Judicial System Information
Officers of the Court / Characteristics of a Trial
Courtroom Demeanor / How to Dress for Court
Testifying in Court - The DOs and DON'Ts

Trial Tactics and Tricks Used by Attorneys
Common Trial Objections During Testimony
Courtroom Definitions

(Printer Friendly Version of Info Above)

Class Activity
The Trial of Goldilocks

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