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Testimony Tips – Best Practices

Testimony Tips – Best Practices

Testimony Tips – Best Practices

Jeff J. Horn – Trial Attorney – Family Law

Testimony Tips – Physical Appearance

Succeed in Family Law Court with these critically important testimony tips. Let’s start with appearance. There was a time and courtrooms offered sport coats to men entering the judge’s courtroom. Formality was a requirement. Now – no jackets required. On the contrary, clean casual clothing is more than sufficient. Tattoos were seen as controversial. No more. Don’t worry about your tattoos. A long sleeve shirt book is sufficient.

Testimony Tips – Timeliness

Be on time for your testimony. In reality, that means be early. Best bet, appear 15 minutes early.  Family Court judges are under an enormous time pressure. Obviously, they need to run an efficient show. Make the family court judge’s job easier by being on time. Early is better than late. Remember, the quicker you begin your testimony the quicker you are done.

Virtual Testimony Tips

During the pandemic, masks are worn. Safety first. Testimony tips for entering the courtroom. Keep your mask on until it is your turn to testify. If the judge allows, take off your mask. The mask is highly dehumanizing. Family Court judges need you to be believable. Likewise, you need to be believable. Credibility is the key component of your family court testimony.

Virtual Testimony – Your Lawyer

Your lawyer may allow you to sit in front of the same computer. Likely, this affords you a tremendous amount of comfort. Your mask is on except during your testimony. Let me repeat, your mask must be off during your virtual testimony. Otherwise, the family court judge is stuck with a dehumanized pile of pixels.

Testimony – War Story #1

My client was extra vigilant in wearing masks and avoiding any pandemic risk. We practiced his testimony three times before trial. He was right. We did not specifically discuss a mask. At trial he kept the mask on. Even when it was his turn for testimony he refused to take off his mask. The Family Court judge did not believe him. His credibility was doomed. Remember, testifying on video conferences is dehumanizing, wearing a mask during testimony loses cases. The cost to this decision is enormous.

Testimony Tips – Take Your Time

Virtual family court is weird. Family Court is stressful. Obviously, virtual family law court can be just as stressful and uncomfortable. Take your time. This means, wait for the entire question to be asked before you answer.

Testimony Tips –  War Story #2

A pro se litigant was asked questions on the record by the Family Court judge. I counted. (30) times in a row, she answered before the question was completely asked. How does that affect credibility? Think first, will interrupting the family court judge help your case? The Family Court judge found that witness not credible.

Testimony Tips – Tone of Voice

Contrary to what you think, louder testimony is not credible. Objective and thoughtful answers are believable. Family Court judges find the facts from documentary evidence and believable testimony. Volume does not equal believable. Routinely, the emotional witness is deemed not credible. Make no mistake, emotions will creep into family court testimony. That is okay. Loud denials are unnecessary. 

Loud and quick denials are usually not credible.

Ocean County Divorce Law

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

LINK to NJ Virtual Court Broadcast –  https://www.njcourts.gov/public/assets/vc/virtualcourtroomvideo.pdf?c=kFY