Witness Preparation

There are few things in life more stressful for a person than the weight of testimony under oath and at the hands of a skillful and unfriendly advocate. Effective witness preparation improves the witness’ ability to respond to questions, control the level of detail in their answers, creates a narrative that is the context of all testimony, reduces the witnesses natural anxiety and self protective reactions, heightens jury perception of their level of likeability, knowledge and credibility, educate the jury on key background issues and show conviction in their responses.

LSI will assess witness presentation for:

  • Effectiveness of testimony (mastery of the case facts and his or her role as witness
  • Behavioral indications of credibility and confidence
  • Word content to determine clarity of complex issues and determine possible juror interpretations.
  • Subtle messages being received by the listener
  • Body language and/or vocal inflection that is incongruent with testimony.
  • Distracting communications (verbal and non-verbal) that reduce the effectiveness of the intended message,e.g., rambling, vocal tension, nervous twitches, poor eye contact, and clearing the throat, etc.
  • Negative emotions (defensiveness, hostility, self-righteousness, fear, arrogance, etc.)
  • Self-destructive motivations (vengeance, expiation of guilt, retaliation, greed, etc.)
  • Any behavior that may unconsciously sabotage his or her credibility

 

LSI will prepare witness to understand and/or cope with:

  • The stressful environment of the deposition and courtroom
  • Speaking in front of a group
  • The need to take their time and tell the truth
  • Silence and how to avoid the trap of filling that silence during deposition and cross-examination.
  • The unique characteristics of testimony and making a record.
  • The importance of listening to the actual questions posed and to request that poorly formed questions be restated prior to giving an answer.
  • Admitting the limits of his or her memory and knowledge and saying, “I don’t know” rather than guessing. Answering questions carefully, briefly, and precisely.
  • Witness individual differences due to culture, ethnicity, religion, social standing, education, etc., that may hamper the witness’ ability to convey their testimony to a varied and diverse American jury pool.

 

LSI will familiarize the witness with:

  • The specific areas of witness knowledge and expertise needed in testimony.
  • The trial context: the courthouse and courtroom environment, opposing counsel’s examination style, the demographic profile of the jury, and the personality profile of the judge.
  • A clear understanding of his or her role in the trial and the theme of their testimony.
  • An outline of the jury’s expectations and biases.
  • Features of his or her background that increase credibility and jury panel rapport.
  • Key trial themes.
  • Substantive points of his or her statement for consistent and reliable testimony.
  • Important educational issues and what demonstrative evidence is needed to support testimony.
  • The effective use of exhibits.