Tips for Testifying

By Elliott Wilcox

Attorney Elliott Wilcox has some tips for expert witnesses on testifying. Mr. Wilcox has served as the lead trial lawyer in nearly 2oo jury trials and numerous non-jury trials. He cautions that this is just a quick primer:

Don’t get rushed. Get into the pattern of “Question – Pause – Answer.” By ensuring that you pause after each question (regardless of the question’s difficulty) you’ll avoid getting pushed into rapidly answering the defense attorney’s questions.

Talk to individual jurors, not “the jury.” Make eye contact with individuals. Think “conversation,” not “soliloquy.”

Remember that you’re always on stage. Maintain a serious composure before and after you testify. The jurors might see you as you drive into the courthouse, in the hallways as you wait to testify, or after you’ve finished testifying.

If you make a mistake, correct it immediately. You’ve heard that “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.” Jurors will forgive you for making a mistake — they won’t forgive you for covering it up.

Don’t look to your attorney-client for answers. He/she can’t help, and it looks like you can’t take care of yourself.

Don’t be a jerk. Unfortunately, it needs to be said. You can have all the brains in the world, but if you’re a jerk, the jurors won’t want to listen to you.

These tips were originally published on Expert Communications, a blog produced by Rosalie Hamilton. What essential tips for testifying would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Elliott Wilcox

Mr. Wilcox has served as the lead trial lawyer in nearly 200 jury trials and numerous non-jury trials.

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