3 Ways To Come Across As A Credible Witness

20144915_m-300x199Credibility can play an important role in determine the outcome of your case. If testimony from either party comes across as improbable or unreasonable it can seriously harm your chances of getting what you want. Since opposing counsel is going to do everything in their power to demean your reliability it is essential for you to project credibility to the Judge in the case. Below are three easy ways to project credibility when taking the witness stand.

1. Dress the part

If possible, you should dress in business attire for your court appearance. Dressing in proper attire can create a “halo effect” meaning people will view you in a more positive light and will be more willing to look past any minor mistakes you make. The pioneering study on the halo effect was conducted by psychologist E.L. Thorndike who studied the effect in the early 1900’s and noticed that, “when an individual is found to possess one desirable trait, that individual is assumed to have many other desirable traits too.” If you think Judges do not care about appearance then think again. At least one Judge in the District of Columbia Superior Court keeps extra shirts and ties for parties to use if they do not own any.

2. Make eye contact with the Judge and Opposing Counsel

A recent study by Northwestern University confirms what many have been saying for a long time, that eye contact builds trust. When being questioned by opposing counsel maintaining eye contact can work for you in a couple ways. One, it can demonstrate to opposing counsel that you are not timid and that counsel will not be able to bully you on the stand and two by displaying your trustworthiness it can throw opposing counsel off of their game. If the Judge asks you a question directly making eye contact while answering can impact your credibility by coming across as trustworthy to the Judge.

3. Answer the questions directly

As bad as you may want to expand on a question asked by your attorney or rebut a question phrased by opposing counsel do not do it. Remember, it is your attorney’s job to rebut opposing counsel’s assertions and to make objections when necessary. Moreover, your attorney should be asking questions in a manner that enables all the necessary details to be divulged during trial. By answering questions firmly and directly you will come across as competent and credible to the fact finder.

Following the three tips above is a good starting point to strengthening your case by being a credible witness.

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Thinking Of Hiring An Attorney? Make Sure You Ask These 3 Questions.

11696462_m-300x233Years ago if you wanted to hire an attorney you either looked for a referral from someone you knew or looked in the local Yellow Pages. With the proliferation of attorneys in the market and attitudes towards attorney advertising changing the problems is not so much scarcity as it is who to trust among the thousands of attorneys that are at your fingertips. As you do your due diligence in selecting an attorney here are three questions you should make sure to ask your potential lawyer.

1. Have they handled a case like yours before?

Seems like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how many people are so overwhelmed with their issue that they neglect to ask this question. Its important to be as specific as possible when asking if the attorney has handled a case like yours before. For example, instead of asking have you handled a divorce case before you might ask “have you handled a high net worth divorce case” or “have you handled a custody case where the other party is out of state with the children.”

2. Have they had any disciplinary action taken before them?

It is imperative to make sure that the attorney you select has a good track record and what better way to find out what they are about then finding out if they have a clean record with the Bar. If you feel uncomfortable asking directly, then you may want to use an attorney directory to find out. Many directories such as Nolo will indicate if an attorney has had any disciplinary actions taken against them. You can also contact your local bar association and ask.

3. What will the attorney’s strategy be for your case?

This is a good question to determine whether your attorney’s proposed actions will follow your wishes. Perhaps you want to settle, but an attorney would rather drag the case out knowing he/she will benefit from the additional billable hours, or vice versa perhaps the attorney does not see the case as lucrative enough and wants to wrap it up as quickly as possible although that may not be the appropriate course of action.

If you need a family law or business law attorney contact the Barkat Law Firm for a free consultation where we are more than ready to answer the above questions and any other questions you may have about your case.

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