When You Go To Court

Some Suggestions


Be Alert

The impressions you create can be affected by everything you say and do in and around the courtroom. Assume that to be true and be “alert and aware, everywhere”, even in the hallways outside of the Courtroom.

Be a Witness

When you testify, remember you are a witness, not an advocate.

Your task is to deal with the facts.  Let your lawyer do the arguing.

The best argument for your case may be nothing you say, it may be “you and how you


Don’t Fight With the Lawyer

Even if tempted or provoked, never get “personal” with in your verbal exchanges with your spouse’s lawyer. It is the lawyer’s home field, and your credibility will suffer the consequences.

                   Even when it is not completely true, assume the lawyer “is playing a necessary role”, and do

                         not “demonize” the lawyer.

                   Avoid sarcastic responses-they are personal.

The Rules of Decorum 

Don’t bring food or chew gum.

Be on time.

Be Natural 

Dress to express who you are, not just to impress.

Extremes in dress convey a disrespect of the court and the system.

Tell the Truth as You Know It.

Don’t guess. It is normal “not to know” perfectly. “As best  can recall” is the best you can

            do. Nothing more is expected.

Perfect recall is not an ingredient of honesty, so tell it “to the best of your recollection”.

You may take notes or other reminders with you to the witness stand, BUT if you do, the 

      lawyer questioning you is entitled to see them.

Discuss what you are taking with your lawyer before you go to the witness chair.

Be Prepared but Don’t Over-Prepare

Don’t memorize. It destroys spontaneity.

If you must memorize, memorize topics, not questions and answers.

Make yourself acquainted with the routines and rituals by watching another trial in the same

     Courthouse before you go to Court.

Discuss your testimony with your lawyer, or with the lawyer calling you as a witness.  It is

      normally done. If you are asked on the witness stand whether or not you have “talked to Mr.

      Lawyer”, the simple answer is  “Yes”.

Don’t Over-React 

When you sit at counsel table during trial:

Avoid making facial gestures in response to the testimony of your spouse or others “who

      lie”. Nothing tells the judge more about your capacity to be argumentative and difficult.

Do not besiege your lawyer with whispered questions, hints or “points”.

Try not to say or do anything that will be a distraction.

Do not interject when someone else is testifying. That is not your role.

Whatever thoughts you have and feel are important, they probably are.

Have a quiet procedure worked out in advance with your lawyer to communicate in a non-

     distracting way.

 When You Are on the Witness Stand

               You are a witness, not an advocate.

                  Let your lawyer make the objections to testimony.

                  If a question calls for a “yes” or a “no”, say “yes” or “no”. Your lawyer will   ask you for the

                      “rest of the story” later at a proper time.

                  Stick to the point, and the point is the question that is asked.

                  Focus your testimony on the judge. Neither your lawyer, your spouse, or your spouse’s  

                       lawyer will decide the case, but the judge will. 

                  Listen, think and answer clearly.

                  Speak into the microphone.

                  Speak clearly.

                  Express your answers in words, not gestures, because the proceedings are being


                  If you did not hear or did not understand a question, say so, and ask that the question be


                  If a question is unclear for any reason, ask the lawyer or the judge for clarification.

                  If you want to interject, ask the judge for permission “Your Honor May I”………….. If it is

                       given, proceed. If it is not, shut up and go on without facial expression.

Prepare by Relaxing Yourself

                     Get a good night’s rest.

                  Don’t get blasted.

                  Before you leave where you are, organize your papers and documents-if there was  a

                      subpoena, read it; if it asks you to bring documents, bring them.
                  Arrive early.

                  Let the lawyer know you have arrived.

                  Wait outside of the Courtroom unless you have permission from the lawyer calling you as a

                      witness to come into the Courtroom.

                  Breathe deeply, think of Lamaze!

The Lighter And More Bizarre Side 

JUDGE:   “Well, Sir, I have reviewed this case and I have decided to give your Wife $775.00 per week.” 

HUSBAND:   “That’s fair, your Honor, I’ll try to send her a few bucks myself."                                                          



Q:     What was the first thing your Husband said to you when he woke up that morning? 

A:     He said, “Where am I, Cathy?” 

Q:     And why did that upset you? 

A:     My name is Susan.



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