TIPS TO CLIENT OR WITNESS FOR TESTIFYING
AT TRIAL OR DEPOSITION
1. Always be truthful in your answers.
2. Do not be intimidated by the opposing attorney.
3. Be polite and courteous to the opposing attorney despite any attempt to anger or intimidate you.
4. Do not lose your temper, and above all, do not argue with or attempt to out maneuver the opposing attorney.
5. Do not try to second guess the opposing attorney or make a statement that you think will "help" your case. Tell the truth to best of your knowledge and belief.
6. Do not joke with the opposing attorney when testifying. Be firm, polite but serious.
7. When answering a question, do not nod your head yes or no; state your answer out loud. The court reporter cannot put such a gesture on the record.
8. Speak slowly and clearly. If you feel that you have answered a question incorrectly, do not be afraid to clarify your answer before proceeding.
9. Take your time, do not rush to give your answer. Be sure you fully understand what is being asked of you.
10. Do not guess at anything whatsoever. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
11. Do not assume anything, testify only as to what you know to be the fact and truth.
12. Do not express any opinions; testify only to facts. Be straight forward and attentive.
13. Insist on clarification if you do not understand a question.
14. Do not be afraid to ask to look at any relevant documents, notes or letters. If you need this assistance in remembering dates, amounts or other facts, ask to review the document referred to. It is better to do this than to make a false statement or estimate.
15. If you are certain of a fact, do not be afraid to insist on your answer. Do not back down on questions, such as "are you absolutely certain?"
16. Do not volunteer information other than that which is specifically being requested, unless your attorney has so instructed.
17. If the opposing attorney cuts off your answer, be sure to say that you feel that your answer was not complete. Your attorney will clarify the point if necessary.
18. Listen for your attorney to warn you of a dangerous question. He or she will give you a cue, such as asking that the question be clarified, rephrased or repeated.
19. If your attorney makes an objection, wait until the two attorneys have resolve that objection before beginning or continuing your answer.
20. Do not look in the direction of your attorney. Face the opposing attorney and answer his questions directly.
21. If asked if you have spoken with your attorney in preparation for the deposition, admit it readily.
22. Watch what you say "off the record".
23. Do not chew gum or smoke while testifying.
24. Be sure to dress neatly.
25. At trial always direct your answers to the trier of fact (Judge/ Magistrate in a bench trial or hearing; Jury in a jury trial) and not to the person asking the question.
26. Look the trier of fact in the eye if possible while giving your answers to questions.
27. Do not be afraid to answer "I don’t know" or "I don’t remember" if that is the truthful answer to a question. However, if you know or remember give that best recollection, but don’t guess.
28. Do not ever mention things you have said to your attorney or your attorney or any of his/her staff have said to you. These conversations are privileged. But once you begin to talk about these conversations, they can lose their protection and be required to be disclosed in full.
PLEASE NOTE: YOUR DEPOSITION MAY BE RECORDED BY A COURT REPORTER OR TAPE RECORDED, OR BOTH. A DEPOSITION IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS IF YOU WERE TESTIFYING IN COURT BEFORE OF A JUDGE. THEREFORE, IF YOU LIE DURING A DEPOSITION OR MAKE A STATEMENT YOU KNOW TO BE UNTRUE, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE PENALTIES OF PERJURY.