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Going to Court

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  • Going to Court

    Since we seem to share just about everything in this business anyone have any suggestions, ideas, or tips for someone who may end up in court testifying.

    IAAI and NFA seem to be the only place to get some good/intense training on this topic. And having a complete, accurate, and updated CV is another important item aside from knowing the information in 921.

    I have never been to court so I can't offer much more than that. Anyone else have anything helpful?

  • #2
    Court

    #1 Be complete & truthful with your report or statement. This will be the basis for your testimony. You will only be able to testify to what you saw, did or heard. If someone tells you, document who it is so they can be contacted to testify.
    #2 Dress appropriately. Some prosecutors like for you to wear a class A uniform. If you are testifying from an incident when off duty you may want to wear a suit & tie. Check with the prosecutor.
    #3 CFITrainer.com is a very good source. The latest topic is on that very subject.
    #4 Get with the prosecutor & review your testimony. He may also be a good source of training information. My 1st wife worked for an attorney that did defense work & his office had tapes to prepare clients for testimony. My department had a suit filed against it over an EMS run & I obtained these tapes to prepare our personnel for testimony at deposition & trial.
    #5 Review your report, statement or case file prior to trial.
    #6 Be as relayed as possible & speak to the jury or judge if not a jury trial. Remember they you have to make your point to.
    #7 Speak on an educational level of the jury. Remember the jury is a cross of the community.
    #8 Don't try to out smart the attorney. They will eat you alive. Answer the ? & don't add anything to it. Once you answered it, let him ask another ? before speaking again.
    #9 If you don't understand the ? ask that the repeat the ? Don't make up an answer you can't back up or explain the fact. If you don't know, say so. No one person has all the answers.
    #10 Going to trial can be a very nerve racking or rewarding expeariance. Remember, the defense attorney has a job to defend his client. He may try to discredit or intimidate you. As long as you tell the truth, nothing less & nothing more, he probably will not get to you.

    Comment


    • #3
      George has a power point presentation that he shared with me when I asked him for some tips when I had to make an appearance at a criminal trial. It was very helpful, give him a PM and ask if you can get a copy of it.
      "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

      Comment


      • #4
        http://www.cfitrainer.net/Training_P...Testimony.aspx
        PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

        Comment


        • #5
          Direct examination should be a walk in the park, although you will probably be nervous with butterfly's in your stomach. I would suggest sitting down with someone (possibly the person doing your direct exam) and practice answering questions. I wouldn't try to script answers but make sure you can answer every question they ask. If you know the case well enough, answers will come easy.

          Be able to explain the tasks of what you do. This may sound stupid because we investigate fires routinely, but can you explain the aspects of your job and what you do to a jury in a complete and efficient manner?

          On cross exam, no matter what, don't lose your cool. Stay calm and courteous.

          I make an outline when I testify of bullet points that I know need covered to get my opinions across. Don't hesitate to refer to your notes or reports and photos.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Taylor61 View Post
            Direct examination should be a walk in the park, although you will probably be nervous with butterfly's in your stomach. I would suggest sitting down with someone (possibly the person doing your direct exam) and practice answering questions. I wouldn't try to script answers but make sure you can answer every question they ask. If you know the case well enough, answers will come easy.

            Be able to explain the tasks of what you do. This may sound stupid because we investigate fires routinely, but can you explain the aspects of your job and what you do to a jury in a complete and efficient manner?

            On cross exam, no matter what, don't lose your cool. Stay calm and courteous.

            I make an outline when I testify of bullet points that I know need covered to get my opinions across. Don't hesitate to refer to your notes or reports and photos.
            Unless those bullet points have been turned over the defense in discovery, you can't use them. You are only permitted to testify from your memory. You may use documents that have been turned over in discovery to refresh your memory.

            If you are using those bullet points as a "cheat sheet", you are risking a contempt cite.
            PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
              Unless those bullet points have been turned over the defense in discovery, you can't use them. You are only permitted to testify from your memory. You may use documents that have been turned over in discovery to refresh your memory.

              If you are using those bullet points as a "cheat sheet", you are risking a contempt cite.
              Please list your source that says you have to testify from memory. How does using bullet points put me in contempt? Am not allowed to flag pages or use highlighters in books, texts, codes or other documents that I rely on to form the basis of my opinions?

              Comment


              • #8
                Are you for real? Have you been trained in this area at all? Let's refer to Court Rule 612:

                Rule 612. Writing Used to Refresh Memory

                Except as otherwise provided in criminal proceedings by section 3500 of title 18, United States Code, if a witness uses a writing to refresh memory for the purpose of testifying, either--

                (1) while testifying, or

                (2) before testifying, if the court in its discretion determines it is necessary in the interests of justice,

                an adverse party is entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness thereon, and to introduce in evidence those portions which relate to the testimony of the witness. If it is claimed that the writing contains matters not related to the subject matter of the testimony the court shall examine the writing in camera, excise any portions not so related, and order delivery of the remainder to the party entitled thereto. Any portion withheld over objections shall be preserved and made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal. If a writing is not produced or delivered pursuant to order under this rule, the court shall make any order justice requires, except that in criminal cases when the prosecution elects not to comply, the order shall be one striking the testimony or, if the court in its discretion determines that the interests of justice so require, declaring a mistrial.


                ANd let's go to Rule 703:

                Rule 703. Bases of Opinion Testimony by Experts

                The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence in order for the opinion or inference to be admitted. Facts or data that are otherwise inadmissible shall not be disclosed to the jury by the proponent of the opinion or inference unless the court determines that their probative value in assisting the jury to evaluate the expert's opinion substantially outweighs their prejudicial effect.


                And, while we are at it, Rule 705:

                Rule 705. Disclosure of Facts or Data Underlying Expert Opinion

                The expert may testify in terms of opinion or inference and give reasons therefor without first testifying to the underlying facts or data, unless the court requires otherwise. The expert may in any event be required to disclose the underlying facts or data on cross-examination.


                You are also not reading what I wrote.

                The Court Rules of the US (adopted by each state) state that you have to testify from memory. I wrote (and you didn't read) that you can use documents that have been turned over to the other side during the discovery process to refresh your memory. You are not permitted to read your report or your notes. You are not allowed to read codes, standards or any other source into the record. You can reference those sources as a foundation for your opinion if they are so noted in your report and if the other side during discovery. You will also have to place on the record when you are referring to your documents.

                You referenced "bullet points". If you are talking about "bullet points" specific to the case, you are not permitted to refer to them unless they have been turned over in discovery. If you are referring to a "bullet point" list similar to an outline of your general testimony, it would be found to not be relevant to the case and you would not be allowed to use it. It is not appropriate discovery material. If you are found referring to such a "bullet point" cheat sheet, the other side is going to blow a gasket and the judge is likely to entertain a motion for a mistrial. If you are using a "cheat sheet" and the judge is in the right mood, he could find you in contempt for using an unauthorized source in your testimony.

                You can tell me I'm wrong and don't know what I am talking about. That's OK. But before you testify the next time, check with your counsel when he is prepping you and see what he thinks. Then have the integrity to come back here and tell everyone that I was right.

                You guys have to understand that, when my fingers hit the keyboard, I know what I am talking about.
                PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                Comment


                • #9
                  George can you touch on Voir Dire for experts?
                  Last edited by LtDanDaFireman; 09-24-2009, 09:41 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LtDanDaFireman View Post
                    George can you touch on Voir Dire for experts?
                    In a nutshell, the voir dire of a potential expert witness is a line of detailed questions that demonstrate to the judge that the witness possesses the necessary education, training, knowledge and experience to qualify as an expert witness. This line of questioning is going to basically run down your CV first, and then run down a line of questioning that demonstrates your knowledge of the subject you are qualifying in. You can be pretty sure that if your qualifications are light, you will have a lengthy line of questioning on your subject knowledge. If you have previously qualified as an expert witness, the line of questioning will be shorter. This questioning is done outside the presence of the jury.

                    Once the questioning is complete, your attorney will then make a verbal motion to the court to offer you as an expert witness. The other side will get a chance to cross examine the witness and to address the motion. The judge will then rule on the motion. If the witness is allowed to testify as an expert, this voir dire process will be repeated in front of the jury. The judge will provide instruction to the jury as to how to weigh the testimony of an expert witness. The testimony will then continue.

                    Remember, as an expert witness, your opinion is not definitive and is not evidence. An expert's opinion testimony is to be used by the jury to help them interpret the evidence before them.

                    One word of caution. The other side will often look to stipulate to the witnesses expert status. You may get all cocky and think they are doing it because you are so ultra-qualified. He's not. He's doing it to prevent the jury from hearing your qualifications. Your attorney should insist that the voir dire be heard by the jury.
                    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                    Comment

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