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Witness Preparation

Because most trials depend heavily on the strength of witness testimony during depositions and at trial, the witness’ confidence, credibility, and clarity are essential to the positive presentation of the case. We assist attorneys with preparing witnesses by giving them listening and communication skills so they can give their best testimony under the pressures of deposition or cross-examination as well as effectively tell their story during direct examination. A mock examination with videotape playback can be used to provide both the attorney and the Decision Analysis consultant the opportunity to provide feedback on strengths and needed skills.
 
The Witness Preparation process involves the following steps:
 
1. Define the specific areas of witness knowledge and expertise
2. Address witness concerns, hidden agendas, and attitude
3. Clearly define the witness’ role in the trial
4. Explain thoroughly to the witness the trial context: the courthouse and courtroom environment, the personality profile of the judge, the demographic profile of the jury, and opposing counsel’s examination style
5. Outline the jury’s expectations and biases.
6. Define witness background for credibility and jury panel rapport
7. Outline key trial themes
8. Clarify substantive points for consistent reinforcement
9. Outline important educational issues and determine what demonstrative evidence is needed to support testimony
10. Teach witnesses the most effective use of exhibits
11. Videotape or audiotape witnesses for suggestions on nonverbal behaviors such as dress, eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture and vocal variety
12. Analyze word content to clarify complex issues and possible juror interpretations
13. Develop witness comfort and resourcefulness in cross-examination. Help witnesses deliver the desired message during cross-examination and create the desired impact on the jury panel
 
This skill-building increases the witness’ ability to respond to questions, control the level of detail in their answers, heighten jury perception of their level of knowledge, educate the jury on key background issues, and show conviction in their responses.
 
The length of each witness session depends on the skill level, effectiveness, and comfort of the individual witnesses. Sessions are tailored to individual witness needs.