Court Preparation

1. Dress neatly and appropriately. Dress as if you were going to church.

2. Please do not chew gum or smoke while testifying, and avoid distracting mannerisms. Always be polite.

3. When taking the oath, stand upright, pay attention, and say "I do" clearly.

4. Be serious, attentive and courteous in court or anywhere else in the courthouse where jurors may observe you. Always remember that the person riding on the elevator with you might be a juror on your case.

5. Speak clearly and loudly enough so that the juror farthest from you can hear you easily.

6. Before you testify, try to picture the crime scene, the objects at the scene, the distances involved and just what happened, so that you can recall more accurately when asked.

7. Tell the truth. You are sworn to do so. Do not stop to figure out whether your answer will help or hurt the prosecution. Just answer the questions truthfully to the best of your memory. Do not exaggerate and do not make up answers. Never guess at and answer. The form response, "I don't recall" is perfectly permissible if you do not remember some details.

8. Listen carefully to each question asked of you. Understand the question and have it repeated, if necessary. If you do not understand the question, tell the judge you do not understand it. Do not give a snap answer without thinking. Do not rush to answer, but do not delay in answering simple questions if you are sure you know the answer.

9. Answer only the questions asked you, do not volunteer information. Explain your answer only if asked. Give the answer in your own words, and if a question cannot be truthfully answered with a "yes" or "no," you have a right to explain the answer.

10. If your answer was not correctly stated, correct it immediately. If your answer was not clear, clarify it immediately.

11. If you do not want to answer a question, don't ask the judge whether you must answer it. If it is an improper question, the prosecutor will rise and state an objection. Otherwise, you should answer the question as you would any other.

12. Do not shake your head indicating a "yes" or "no" answer. Answer every question with words. Speak so that the court reporter (or recording service) can hear the answer.

13. Give positive, definite answers when possible. Avoid saying, "I think" or "I believe," if you can be positive. However, if your answer is only an estimate about distances or time or other such factors, be sure to state that it is only an estimate. If asked about details you do not remember, simply say, "I don't remember" or "I don't recall."

14. Unless certain, do not say, "That's all the conversation" or "Nothing else happened." Instead, say, "That's all I recall" or "That's all I remember happening." It may be that after more thought or another question, you will remember something important.

15. The court is interested in only the facts. Please do not give your conclusions and opinions unless asked.

16. Do not let the defense attorney make you mad. Some attorneys will try to wear you out on cross-examination or say things that will make you lose your temper. If this happens, you will not be a good witness. Do not argue with the defense attorney. Keep calm no matter what the defense attorney does.

17. Do not let the defense attorney lure you into thinking he is your friend who is trying to help you. Follow his line of questions carefully.

18. Give the prosecutor time to object to any questions the defense attorney asks you and stop immediately if the judge interrupts or any attorney objects.

19. If you are asked by the defense attorney whether you have talked with the prosecutor or anyone else about the case, as in every other situation, tell the truth. It is perfectly alright to talk to the prosecutor.

20. When coming from the witness stand or after testifying, wear a confident expression, but do not smile or appear downcast.

21. Avoid laughing and talking about the case anywhere outside the courtroom that the jurors or the defendant's family or representatives may overhear you.

22. Remember, your testimony in the courtroom is for the benefit of the jury, not the prosecutor or the judge, so do not be afraid to have eye contact with the jury as you testify.

Care of Children: Unfortunately, there are no facilities to care for children at the courthouse. Since court proceedings may take some time, please try to find someone to care for your children while you attend court.