Witness Evaluation & Presentation Problems
A witness’s presentation in court or at deposition is often critical to the outcome of the case. Most attorneys are well aware of the importance of preparing witnesses for deposition or trial, but few have the time needed to devote to this task. Additionally, some witnesses present with specific issues that affect their verbal or nonverbal communication which are best addressed by a professional with a background in the behavioral sciences.
Trial Exhibits’ consultants hold PhDs in the social sciences and use techniques such as behavior modification to enhance witnesses’ style of presentation, or how the witness testifies. Importantly, the content of a witness’s testimony, or what they say, is not altered. Trial Exhibits’ consultants abide by the ethical principles of the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC). The goal of witness preparation is to help witnesses tell the truth in a clear and confident manner.
During preparation, each witness is treated individually as he/she will have unique areas for improvement. Some of the common methods/areas of preparation include:
- Teaching witnesses how to handle strategies used by opposing counsel. With greater understanding of what to expect during cross-examination, witnesses are able to identify opposing counsel’s tricks and traps, and cope with them effectively, rather than fall victim to them.
- Familiarizing witnesses with the environment in which they will be testifying. A visit to the courtroom in which a witness will testify will help reduce his anxiety once the trial begins.
- Video-recording mock testimony of the witness. Video-recording allows the witness to see for herself any strengths and weaknesses in presentation. Self-awareness of distracting habits (such as using excessive gestures or overuse of the word “um”) can often help witnesses to change those behaviors.
Again, working with witnesses is not a “one method fits all” approach. Each witness is unique and each case presents individual challenges. Trial Exhibits’ Consultants address the specific needs of each witness with a tailored approach, making adjustments as needed.