Tips for Testifying in Court

Written By Ashley Heitkamp of Brudvik Law Office, P.C.

Testifying in court can be stressful and nerve-wracking for many people. It is often a new experience and one that carries a lot of weight. If you have been called to testify in court, read the general tips below to try to help you prepare for your testimony.

  • Dress respectfully; the judge will notice your appearance.
  • Do not chew gum or bring anything to eat into the courtroom.
  • Do not bring your children unless there has been a specific request.
  • Remember, if you bring friends or family, the judge will notice their appearance and behavior in addition to yours.
  • If it is helpful, you may want to visit the courtroom if you have never been in court before your court date.
  • Once you enter the courthouse, be aware that courthouse employees, court reporters and judges may have an opportunity to observe you at times that you are not testifying.
  • While others are testifying, be respectful. Don't make faces, don't make comments, and be careful of your body language. The judge WILL observe you when you are sitting at counsel table.
  • When you are asked a question, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN until the person is done asking the question. While you are being asked a question, don't try to figure out what the question might be.
  • Don't argue with the other attorney. Be respectful even if you think the other attorney is not being respectful - always try to take the high road.
  • DO NOT GET ANGRY. If you are having trouble controlling your anger, ask to take a break or take some deep breaths.
  • If you feel upset and think that you may cry, it is OK. There is nothing wrong with showing some emotion, in fact it makes you human and helps the court have some empathy for you. DO NOT FAKE CRY. That always backfires.
  • Answer ONLY what is asked of you. If the question suggests a "yes" or "no", simply answer "yes" or "no". If you can't answer "yes" or "no", say so and explain the reason why.

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