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Monday, June 13, 2016

Involved in a Lawsuit? Here are 3 Tips for Testifying (Part 3)

{2:00 minutes to read} In my last article, I shared a few tips to consider when preparing for a deposition. In this article I share the final tip below.  

3. Witnesses need to keep their answers short and sweet.

Clients must make sure they understand the lawyer’s question before answering it; and answer as simply as possible.

The typical question does not seek major information about a case but, rather small facts that help to paint a picture of what happened. What often happens is that the witness will answers a question and then continue to answer what she thinks the next question will or should be. That only leads to more questions.

The example below shows how this can create problems. .

Example:

         The lawyer asks, “Do you live with anyone?”

        The client responds, “No, but I used to live with my ex-boyfriend, who was actually on the phone with me  when          he ran his truck into a police van and now he’s in jail. We met when we were in court on another case.”

The appropriate answer would have been “no.” You can imagine that the lawyer will now ask many more questions about facts not relevant to the case, but may tease out information that will later be used to weaken the witnesses’ case.

Think of your the answers like the branches of a tree. If you give more than one answer to a question, that will lead to another branch of questions. The lawyers will then go down more “branches” and ask more questions about the new topics you raise. Your over-answering will be used against you. If you answer only the question asked, the lawyer’s question will continue up the tree’s trunk, until the questioning ends. It will not branch off to other topics.  

Remember, you don't get extra points at a deposition for providing more information than you’re asked.

Please call us at 212-809-4293 or email us at info@KatterLaw.com with questions or comments.

Ron Katter

Katter Law Firm
Phone: 844-WAS-HURT
Alt Phone: 212-809-4293



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