Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mock Trial Witness Workshop "Strategies"

 How to be a witness 

Develop a character and always stay in character.
General guidelines in court procedures
Specific rules for witnesses

Develop Your Character    "Think in Character"
When you receive your case booklet

Read your witness statement

Before you can portray a character

(Hand out random witness statements) 

You need to think in character   "Think in Character"
Write a short biography & include. . .
Where were you born?
How old are you?
When is your birthday?
Where do you live/address?
Do you have a job?
Who are your friends?
What are your sports/hobbies?
What's your favorite thing to do?

"Think in Character"

As you write your biography. . .
You begin to think in 3 dimensions
You start thinking as a real person

Spock/Leonard Nimoy:  The more I cloaked myself in the character, the more comfortable I became.

"Think in Character"

Make a list of your likes (5)

Leonard Nimoy -- as he stayed in character more and more, he became the Spock character.   He used his own background and emotions to build the character on.

Make a list of your 5 dislikes (5)

"Think in Character"
Categorize your character

"If I were a movie, what would I be?
"If I were a book, what would I be?"
"If I were a car, what would I be?"
"If I were a pet, what would I be?'
"If I were a song, what would I be?"
"If I were an insect, what would I be?"

 Do you see how this can help? 

  • As your imagination fills in the grey areas. .  A personality will emerge.
  • Next, talk about yourself out loud.  Tell your parents and friends who you are.  Have your friends ask you questions.
  • (Example:   witness named Luna Phoenix -- judge asked her about her unusual name -- she told him her parents' names and that they were flower children -- products of the sixties. 
  • Can pick a person to imitate.  
  • Talking allows you to continue to develop your character.  
  • Present your character in a realistic manner during trial.

 Courtroom Basics 

  • Dress appropriately
  • Sit together in court, sit in order of appearance -- (arrange so you are not climbing over each other to get out)
  • Stand, then introduce yourselves  -- 
  •     Good evening/afternoon/morning, your Honors.  I am (first name, last name, spell last name if it is unclear.  I am the prosecution/defense witness (character name).  
  • Bailiff/Clerk 

 Courtroom Basics
  • When sworn in speak clearly and state "Yes, I do."  
  • Bailiff checks with judge as to how witnesses will be sworn in. 
  • When asked to spell your name "Your honor, I am _________________. . . . "
  • Sit up straight. . . do not rock or swivel.
  • Listen carefully to the questions. . . make sure you understand what was asked. 
  • Answers questions with a yes or not.  (CROSS?)  
  • Witnesses work with your attorneys -- those who will direct and those who will cross. 

 Courtroom Basics  
  • Explanatory answers, look at the judge (so they can see the whites of your eyes) 
    • (yes/no answers at attorney)
  • Always answer the judge with "Yes, Your Honor"  . . . or "No, Your Honor."  
  • Don't panic. . . . 
  • Always stay in character -- never let them see you sweat.
    • I am Spock and Spock is me. 

 Courtroom Basics  Witness #1 Example 

People vs. Markson  --   about 54
confident, quick to respond , competent --  a police officer will tend to keep his answers short and two the point.  (Look at the judge on the bench when giving a narrative.  We watched to 56:41. 

 Courtroom Basics 

During Direct. .. 
know the questions your attorney will be asking
practice with your attorney
appear confident and trustworthy
Be sure your testimony is consistent with your witness statement 

 Courtroom Basics 

If a map or something else that requires you to stand
map (evidence poster) make sure you do not block it from the judge(s) 
No markers -- 
No pointers  -- finger only 
     If the attorney asks permission for you to approach the map/evidence poster. . . . 
Don't block the vision
If asked "do you recognize?"  
Follow the attorney's instruction 

 Courtroom Basics  example    

Expert witness
clarified answers in cross 
calm, collected, professional 
at poster, looked at it first, did not block it, pointing to exactly where you need to post

about 1:02-1:03  -- showing on evidence poster 
No objections as long as the defense is allowed to. . . .

 Courtroom Basics

During cross
  •     Cross can be tough, so. . 
  • Anticipate questions that will be asked and prepare answers
  • Act confident. . 
  • Always speak loud and clear.
  • Be responsive -- listen and think before you respond
  • Give only the facts, as you know them
  • never be defensive 

  Courtroom Basics  example     how use voice and hands 


  Courtroom Basics 
Witness is the expert on his or her statement 
Know it backwards, forwards, sideways
Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  

   Courtroom Basics 
A witness can only testify to his or her own witness statement.
or the fact situation if it would be reasonable for him or her to have knowledge of that

Be sure that your testimony  

you don't want to be impeached 

You made a witness statement
and you were truthful  as you made that. . . 
attention to page, line 
show how it affects the case. . . relevance . . . 

 Courtroom Basics  example   

about 1:23 direct and cross  -- impeachment at about 1:27 plus 

 Rules for Witnesses 
  • Witnesses cannot use notes.
  • All witnesses must be called (5 Pt.)
  • Witnesses cannot waste time (run time)  (running of the time) - 3-6 points
  • [When you walk in, you've got a seven.  Mrs. Dyatt tells the judges that.  Judges go up and down from that.]
  • If forget or get impeached, could lose three points -- three judges 
  • Witness statements are the statements given to the police. 
  • Witnesses may be impeached.
  • Witnesses are not to use costumes, inappropriate attire, or costume makeup.
  • Use our normal speaking voices, not ethnic or unrealistic accents.  
  • Do not use monotone voice.

Courtroom Basics  example  
monotone -- blonde wife  About 1:30 
attorney defended objection -- Your Honor, may I be heard   

Rules for Witnesses

Do not leave the courtroom until trial is over -- recess only
No talking with anyone outside the well until the trial is over 

Most important strategy  -- Practice, practice, practice 

Most important Rule -- have fun!   

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