View Full Version : I have to be in court tomorrow, any advice and reasurrances? (not legal advice ofc)

05-05-2011, 07:06 PM

Tomorrow I get to show up in court as a witness. I've been to the court room for the 1st appearance stuff, and I've got all my notes and stuff together, but I'm a bit nervous and never sat through trials before. It also doesn't help that I also have to appear as a defendant (can you say counter-suit?) and may have to deal with all that if the charges against me aren't outright dropped.

Anywho, any tips and general advice for me on what to do in a court room? I've had some experience with professional speaking, so it's just a matter of remembering to make eye contact and breathing and all that jazz ;)

Please please save all your horror stories and silly comments for tomorrow afternoon. I need some confidence building and hand holding here.

Also, standing up for yourself is tough. I'm feeling a bit harassed, though that's not surprising given the situation and the counter suit. I'm looking forward to this being over.

05-05-2011, 07:10 PM
Don't be afraid to take your time to think before you answer.

05-05-2011, 07:30 PM
ANSWER ONLY WHAT IS ASKED...if you can answer the question with a "yes" or a "no" do that...don't elaborate...make the attorneys do their jobs

you are much safer that way...and also, and this is key...if you do not know the answer, say you don't know rather than guess or provide an estimate as to time, distance, etc...an "I don't know" or "I don't recall" is perfectly acceptable so long as it is the truth


Alessandra Kelley
05-05-2011, 07:45 PM
Don't make any assumptions at all and stay calm. Good luck.

Pistol Whipped Bee
05-05-2011, 07:45 PM
What Milly said is spot on - and don't allow yourself to get painted into a corner either. If the attorney says to answer yes or no - you can say "Both or neither". Things can be a lot more complicated than the way the attorney wants to paint the picture.

Try to get a little exercise in before you go. Take a half hour walk or something.

05-05-2011, 07:46 PM
Good points.

And I do need to remember to think before I answer in particular b/c I feel pressured to start talking when under pressure.

Maybe I should call a friend and practice, even if it turns silly :)

Alessandra Kelley
05-05-2011, 07:54 PM
Don't talk under pressure. Don't talk to fill the silence. Don't volunteer anything. And really, good luck.

Alpha Echo
05-05-2011, 07:58 PM
Everyone's already given the advice I would give. I was a witness during my separation, and I was terrified. It was a surreal experience, for many reasons.

The thing I remember the most (and it's all pretty foggy) is my ex-husband's lawyer trying to trip me up by re-wording the same question several times and trying to use my own words against me. I just kept repeating my first answer, which was correct.

Don't let the opposing lawyer fluster you. If you don't understand a question, ask them to reword it. If he tries to throw your own words back in your face, don't back down. Just repeat your answer, which is the right one. He'll try to twist your words. Don't let him.

Leah J. Utas
05-05-2011, 07:59 PM
Echo others. Do not volunteer any information. Only respond to actual questions. If a lawyer makes a statement to you, let it go. A Crown Prosecutor here used to sort out how good a witness was in judging distances. He'd say '"So, 30 feet, that's about the distance from me to you, right?"
The witness often agreed despite the distance being 11.5 feet. (I measured one day while no one was around.)
Put on clean clothes and look well-groomed. Stand/sit straight. Make eye contact without being threatening about it. Speak clearly and distinctly.
Can you anticipate the questions you'll be asked? If so, do so. Prep as much as you can in this regard.
I used to cover court and have seen many things including people watching who thought it smart to correct the judge.
Do not smile or joke under oath. Take the proceedings seriously.
Again, things I've seen.
Best of luck.

05-05-2011, 08:09 PM
More thank yous, folks. Many reps to be sent tomorrow :)

05-05-2011, 08:36 PM
Don't answer anything you aren't asked.

Answer exactly what you're asked. Be literally-minded.

Yes or no answers are often preferable.

05-05-2011, 10:50 PM
One thing (among many others already mentioned) that my brother (attorney) told me is to always be respectful. Of the judge, the attorneys, the jury - the bailiff. That demeanor will put you in a favorable light from the git-go.

05-05-2011, 11:01 PM
definitely...don't get an attitude with the attorney asking questions...when I have a witness on the stand, it's my "job" to be to the point and to sometimes ask questions that may seem embarrassing or perhaps irrelevant to the witness but that serve some greater point or angle that I'm going for

Again, answering what is asked and doing so in a respectful manner is best...let the jury or judge make a decision on the evidence without it being swayed by their feelings about you or any witness for that matter

Soccer Mom
05-05-2011, 11:17 PM
Good advice here. Do you have an attorney? He or she should meet with you briefly to discuss your testimony.

05-05-2011, 11:17 PM
My only advice is good luck! This has to be stressful for you.

05-06-2011, 01:13 AM
Thanks folks :)

When I'm the witness, the DA is my attorney (more or less). For the second trial, as the defendant, I chose not to get a lawyer b/c I (stubbornly) decided that I shouldn't have to pay for one just b/c someone ran out to file a counter suit. That's the choice I made, and I'll deal with it. Given how stressed I've been the last few days though I think I could have gotten one and considered it a counciling and hand holding service instead of worrying about legal fees.

I did consult with a lawyer though and I feel confident overall, just stressed and wondering what all will happen tomorrow and too OCD not to keep running things through my head.

05-06-2011, 01:44 AM
Do not get angry with the opposing lawyer.

Some (though not all) deliberately will try to bait you and make you lose your cool, to distract, to make it more about a confrontation between the witness and the lawyer and less about the facts of the case, esp if those facts are harmful to one side of the case.

A good judge won't let them get away with that, but if it happens, don't engage -- just answer directly and briefly, as if it were a normal question.

I've spent many an hour on the stand, and low key and matter of fact always works best.

05-06-2011, 01:47 AM
Take deep breaths, look in the eyes of the judge/lawyer when you answer the questions (it will make you feel confident and appear truthful), and listen carefully (if you are like me, you get nervous and don't listen to what is being said) and remember that you are not the crazy batshit luney. Should said crazy batshit luney start any batshittyness, ignore her and look at the judge and wait for him/her to intervene. Do not rise to the promptings of the batshit luneys.

You'll be fine.

05-06-2011, 03:16 AM
I must now repeat to myself tomorrow 'do not rise to the promptings of the batshit loonies'


Okay, feeling calmer, got to chat with a friend and catch up on life, and am soon off to bed.

Thank you so much everyone. It helps very much to receive your wisdom and well wishes.

05-06-2011, 03:23 AM

Alessandra Kelley
05-06-2011, 03:28 AM
Sleep well.

05-06-2011, 03:29 AM
I don't have any more advice than you have already received. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and sending you good, calming wishes. Hang in there.

05-06-2011, 04:21 AM
The best piece of advice I was ever given was:

Do not volunteer any information.

I wish I could share that with you...
if I did,
I'd be,
you know,
volunteering information,
which I'm not...

oh poo.


Best of luck, and remember that the courtroom is as much your courtroom as anyone else's, you pay taxes, you own a chunk of it. Be comfortable in a room you helped pay for.

'do not rise to the promptings of the batshit loonies'

*double checks expiration date on 'batshit loonies' membership card*

I can't help you with that.


05-06-2011, 04:37 AM
Don't drink until AFTER your court appearance. Then get drunk as hell. Good luck.

05-06-2011, 04:50 AM
I've been in a very similar situation before, and I have to say, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I just stayed calm, remembered to be professional so I would appear to be the credible person I am, and it was over much faster than I'd imagined it would be.


05-06-2011, 04:50 AM
ANSWER ONLY WHAT IS ASKED...if you can answer the question with a "yes" or a "no" do that...don't elaborate...make the attorneys do their jobs

you are much safer that way...and also, and this is key...if you do not know the answer, say you don't know rather than guess or provide an estimate as to time, distance, etc...an "I don't know" or "I don't recall" is perfectly acceptable so long as it is the truth


This, for sure!!

05-06-2011, 03:24 PM
Sleep well.

I slept like a rock :D Luckily I still woke to my first alarm, b/c my second never went off!

Thank you again folks, and for the laugh this morning. I'm off to my tax paid court to hopefully get this legal mess done with.

05-06-2011, 10:19 PM

05-06-2011, 10:21 PM
Just a smile? No nothing but a smile?

Hmmmm. Doesn't bode well.

05-06-2011, 10:25 PM
Hey, I've got a very big smile right


I am, of course, not guilty. The other person was found guilty of one charge.

05-06-2011, 10:40 PM

:banana: :hooray: :Jump: :hooray: :banana:

05-06-2011, 10:41 PM
Ohhh, I like your dancing team :D


05-06-2011, 10:56 PM
Hurray Fenika! That's great. I hope that means this is all over for you now. :)

05-06-2011, 11:07 PM
one word:


told you. The batshit crazy only take over the world if you let them do their batdance all over them.

ok, that was more than one word.

05-06-2011, 11:14 PM

I love you guys. (I know, some of you might think that's excessive, but you make me smile and you're there for me and one of the communities I interact with regularly, so even if you are just online (some of you I've met) I :heart: you folks)

05-06-2011, 11:24 PM
After reading through this thread, it should be a sticky on what it's like in court.

Congrats, Fenika!

Alessandra Kelley
05-06-2011, 11:35 PM
:) OK? :)?

05-07-2011, 12:06 AM

Isn't it amazing when batshit folks think they'll beat you in court? I've been there, too, and it boggles the mind! (I won, too, as you might imagine :D)

05-07-2011, 12:52 AM
Yeah, it's nuts.

Very Not so briefly:

When I got there, there was an offer to drop both charges. I considered, only b/c I was damn well stressed and maybe that was best. Two beats later I said no, I'm not guilty.

So, after waiting for all the other court business and such, I had to get up on the stand and testify. I'm a cry under pressure kinda gal. Yesterday, when pretending to give my testimony, I cried, but figured I'd gotten the worse of it out.

Nope. Very early on I started tearing up AND hyperventilating. Before it got worse I apologized and said I needed a moment and gave myself a quick internal peptalk. As soon as I was breathing a little more steadily I told myself to go ahead and hit a stride again in my testimony. I did and the tears soon stopped.

I answered questions, and remembered your folks' advice, and the advice I'd gotten from others. The lawyer was trying to make me look paranoid but failed, and otherwise trying to make me seem horrible. He called a witness he shouldn't have but I said nothing and the witness was soon sent off the stand and that was that.

I made some mistakes, particularly when the defendant and I had to be my own 'lawyer,' but I dealt with them and moved on.

At one point the judge told me to do something using Big Legal Terms and I stared at him blankly and was trying to work out how to ask what XYZ meant, but I couldn't even repeat the phrase. I should have just said "I'm sorry, but can you clarify how you want me to proceed?" After stumbling over my words I said I'd prepared a statement. He said no, I can't use what I'd written outside the courtroom (in this instance). I covered the essential points from my statement, remembered some key words, and a key point I had noted to counter the oppositions statement, and ended strong (It was prolly 6 sentences, down from 3 short paragraphs)

When the judge was getting ready to give his judgment on me, which he did first, despite my case being second, I stood there confidently and darn sure I had done my job sufficiently, if not smoothly. He said not guilty and I nodded. Seconds later my heart was thumping WILDLY in my chest, harder than it had all morning. I think it was a backwards reaction from the stress of being a defendant being over, but also due to the fact that I have issues with my adrenaline.

Anyways, then he went through the charges I'd filed against the other person and he spoke to the person and things quickly wrapped up.

I could say more, but even though I'm not giving names, it's best not to give details on the internet.

Alessandra Kelley
05-07-2011, 04:56 AM
Well handled. Congratulations. I know court cases can be pretty scary. I hope you can relax now.

05-07-2011, 05:07 AM

I went out for a long walk with my dog, did some gardening, and told two of my friends about it in great length, even sharing some laughs over it, and some frustrations as well (though I'll get over those frustrations pretty fast).

If, heaven forbid, I have to ever be in court again for something I will be more prepared.

05-07-2011, 05:13 AM
Congrats, Fenika! I'm late to the party, and it like it's party time! Despite the nerves, it sounds like you have great presence of mind.

Soccer Mom
05-07-2011, 05:47 AM
:snoopy: Go you!

05-07-2011, 08:48 AM
Hells yeah!

*batdances on crazy person*

Alan Yee
05-07-2011, 09:00 AM
:hooray::snoopy:Yay!!!!! You iz not guilty!

Alpha Echo
05-09-2011, 11:13 PM
I'm glad it went well and you can breathe a sigh of relief now!