SIXTEEN TIPS ON TESTIFYING IN COURT
By Jack Murray, CLI
 
ONE
Appear and behave professionally. This applies both on the witness stand and off. Obviously this influences the jurors, but you never know who is "sizing you up," for the other side, while you're waiting in the hall.
TWO
Before the trial starts, walk in to the courtroom and familiarize yourself where the witness chair is located and the path you need to take to get to it. This enables you to walk directly to the stand in a forthright manner and be sworn in.
THREE
Dress professionally. Studies have shown that blue for men and black for women are the most appropriate colors for "looking believable." Men and women should dress in a conservative fashion, if you are a peace officer, your uniform helps your enhance credence. Avoid flashy colors, no Rush Limbaugh ties, minimal jewelry.
FOUR
When you are sworn in, look at the jury and say, in a loud, clear voice, "I do."
FIVE
Once you are seated, sit up straight and look at the questioning attorney, when answering make eye contact with the jurors.
SIX
Answer all questions clearly, do not nod. If you nod this will cause the court reporter and the judge to tell you to answer audibly and make it look like you're not sure what you're doing.
SEVEN
Keep your hands in your lap. Keep them away from your mouth.
EIGHT
If you need to ask the judge a question, look at the judge and say "Your Honor" wait till the judge gives you permission before you ask the question.
NINE
Listen very carefully to the question. Make sure you understand it before you answer.
TEN
If either attorney objects, stop talking, let the judge rule on the objection and then continue.
ELEVEN
Avoid being combative. Let the attorneys get as nasty as they want. They're more than likely trying to "bait you." You stay cool and answer the questions.
TWELVE
If you make a mistake, admit it. Don't try to cover it up. Nobody is going to hold it against you that you made a mistake, but they will certainly hold it against you if they think you're lying.
THIRTEEN
Never memorize your testimony. Know your facts, but don't try to say things word for word. You will look rehearsed during your testimony and then will not be able to handle cross examination, where the questions are out of sequence.
FOURTEEN
If the other side asks a question that you think is objectionable, pause before answering and give your attorney a chance to object. If he doesn't, answer the question. If either attorney objects, stop your answer and wait for the judge to tell you to proceed.
FIFTEEN
Avoid looking at your attorney when answering questions. This looks like your asking for help and jurors might interpret this as a damaging question, even though your answer makes perfectly good sense.
SIXTEEN
Most important of all, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Avoid temptation to embellish the truth just a bit. It's not necessary and if you're caught it makes your whole testimony suspect.

BOOKS BY JACK MURRAY AND OTHER RELATED TRAINING MATERIAL

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