Long Island, NY Personal Injury
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When It Comes To Testifying In Court, Honesty Is The Best Policy

    Many of the same principles for testifying in a deposition also apply to testifying in court before a judge or jury. The number one principle everyone should remember whether testifying as a plaintiff or a defendant is: tell the truth – always. No doubt your attorney will not want you to offer more information than a question asks for, but he or she should advise you to answer every question honestly. Not only is that the right thing to do, but it also prevents the opposing attorney from “catching” you in a lie. Your honesty is a large part of how you are perceived on the witness stand and goes along way towards supporting your case.

    Sometimes witnesses appear hesitant or apprehensive because they have not understood the questions posed by the examining attorney. Apprehensiveness also may be perceived as dishonesty so remember to always wait a few seconds before answering every question. If you aren’t clear about a question, ask the attorney to clarify it. Testifying in court is serious business. Therefore you have the right (and the obligation) to make sure you understand what’s being asked of you and to respond as best you can.

    If you don’t know or can’t remember an answer, simply say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” None of us can be expected to remember every single detail of an incident, particularly if that incident occurred months or even years ago. Admitting you don’t know or don’t remember is a perfectly honest answer, and is infinitely better than making it up. Before you testify, your attorney should spend a great deal of time refreshing your memory about what you said in your deposition. If you answer a question without being sure about it, that answer could be inconsistent with your previous testimony. Remember, inconsistency can have an adverse effect on your case.

    Finally, while testifying in court is your opportunity to tell your story, you must remain calm, polite, and cooperative. Try not to get emotional, and under no circumstances should you become adversarial with the opposing lawyer. – that is your lawyer’s job.

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