Best Practices for Witness Preparation

The Paralegal Resource
January 17, 2014 — 1,063 views  
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In every law firm, a paralegal has the task of ensuring that all witnesses that are in need for a trial are available. There are three types of witnesses which a paralegal must be able to contact – the client, the lay witness and the expert witness. All these witnesses must be prepared before they give their testimony to the jury at a trial. When a paralegal has to prepare a witness, he/she has to also make sure that their appearance adds value to the client's case. Here are some tips which will help a paralegal prepare some of these witnesses.

The Client

In a trial, the client plays an important role in which way the judgments swings. As soon as the trial date has been set, the client must be notified. Although the trial date maybe many months away, it is important for the client to set aside time to attend the trial. As mentioned before, the client plays a crucial role with regard to impressing the judge and the jury. If the latter believes that the client is inattentive or disinterested in the case, the judge will conclude that the defense is not serious about the outcome of the trial.

The client is supposed to be aware of the key points in the trial defense. The client does not have to be rehearsed and must have a clear idea of how his/her lawyer wishes to bring those key points across to the judge. The client must also be aware of the possible objections that could arise and how he/she should deal with it. The paralegal must make sure that the client is present at the trial as well as the preparation sessions. All statements that are made during the case and at the deposition should be documented with a copy sent to the client. This is an important part of witness preparation.

Lay Witnesses

Lay witnesses or fact witnesses are those who people who do not have any expertise in litigation but because they know facts in the case that could benefit the defense; They also need to be prepared by paralegals. These witnesses are identified from the information contained in the client's file. The client can identify any person who can testify on a crucial incident of the case. These witnesses are initially identified in the pretrial preparation. The paralegal must be in contact with the supervising attorney with regard to the ethics of contacting a lay witness.

All information that a law witness possesses, whether it is a recorded statement at a deposition or an interview, must be considered as an important fact by the paralegal. The paralegal must verify the facts are contained in the client's documents. The paralegal must make sure that he/she does not give a copy of the documents mentioned before to the witness without the approval of the supervising attorney. The paralegal can verify the information given by the lay witness over a phone, although it is best for the paralegal to give a personal interview as well.

The Paralegal Resource