The Better Witness Handbook: A Guide for Testifying at a Deposition, Hearing, or Trial
ABOUT THE BOOK
Every day people give testimony under oath without knowing the legal rules or having some practice in how to listen and respond effectively to questions they will be asked by attorneys or judges. This handbook is written to help the inexperienced person better prepare to give testimony. It also answers many basic questions, such as what the difference is between a deposition and trial testimony, why a deposition is taken and who will be attending, what kinds of questions will be asked and how to formulate effective answers, what to do if one's memory fails, how to get through a difficult cross-examination, how to avoid clever lawyer traps or attempts to put words in one's mouth, the best ways to control anxiety and worry, how to dress to make a good impression, and what demeanor is appropriate or inappropriate for the deposition and courtroom. The reader learns what to expect so that he or she will be better prepared to face any questioner with confidence and a realistic understanding of what will happen at a deposition, hearing or trial, and why. In short, the reader will be a better, more effective truth-teller. The book includes many examples demonstrating the principles and guidance that apply in a variety of situations. Also available in Kindle™ and Nook™ versions.
WHY BUY THIS BOOK?
Every day, people give testimony at hearings, depositions, and trials without knowing the legal rules or having some practice on how to listen and respond effectively to questions they will be asked. Despite television portrayals, giving testimony under oath is not the same as having a conversation. In reality, it is unlike any form of communication most witnesses have had. Basic familiarity with the legal process and an opportunity to practice various question-answer formats enables a witness to enter the legal arena with less anxiety and more confidence.
WHAT DOES THIS BOOK COVER?
People with little or no experience as a witness have many valid concerns and questions. This book build witness confidence and effectiveness by providing practical advice on such topics as :
- The difference between a deposition and trial testimony
- Why a deposition is taken and who will attend
- What kinds of questions will be asked
- How to answer questions effectively and with confidence
- Avoiding clever attorney traps and attempts to put words in one’s mouth
- What to do if memory fails or recall is impossible
- How to get through a difficult cross-examination
- Best ways to control anxiety and worry
- How to dress and act to make a good impression
- How to act at a deposition and at trial
- Becoming an overall better communicator
After reading this book, a witness will know what to expect and be well-prepared to face any questioner with confidence. In short, it helps convert inexperienced witnesses into better witnesses!
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE BOOK
“This is a practical and helpful book for anyone who is being required to give testimony at a deposition, a trial, a hearing, an appearance before a judge, or any number of situations where not only what you say but how you say it is critical.”
“You don’t have to be an attorney to get value from this book. Anyone can read and understand it, and the suggestions are very down-to-earth.”
The Better Witness Handbook
About the Authors
Angela M. Dodge, Ph.D.
Angela Dodge Ph.D. is the owner of Dodge Publications, which produces and distributes various publications in the legal field. An experienced trial consultant and social psychologist, she has assisted attorneys across the country with witness preparation, juror-sensitive trial strategy, jury selection, and pre-trial research (focus groups and mock trials). She has prepared several thousand witnesses for depositions and trial, using simulation methods, practice question-answer segments, demeanor and dress coaching, and team feedback techniques. Her methods were developed from working on a variety of legal cases, a range of witness profiles, and information gained through post-verdict interviews with actual jurors in many venues. The teachings and suggestions in this book are intended to help any witness through the challenging task of giving testimony at deposition, trial, or court hearing, in front of a jury, a judge, or an arbitrator.
Incorporating her knowledge and experience gained through 25 years of working on several thousand legal cases, Dr. Dodge has authored and/or co-authored a number of guidebooks for attorneys, law professors, law students, healthcare professionals, and other trial advocates. She built a solid reputation as a consultant and seminar speaker, and she has addressed many state, regional and national law associations. Her current focus is on the marketing and distribution of the firm’s publications.
John H. Ryan, Ph.D.
John H. Ryan Ph.D. is a litigation psychologist based in the Seattle/Tacoma area of Washington State. Dr. Ryan has worked on several hundred civil lawsuits, consulting with attorneys on witness preparation for deposition and trial, conducting pre-trial focus groups and mock trials, and assisting with juror assessment and jury de-selection by preparing juror questionnaires and voir dire examination questions. He has conducted several hundred legal focus groups and applied results to the development of effective trial strategy and witness preparation techniques. Litigation stress management for physicians and other professionals has also been an important element of his practice.
Much of John’s trial consulting work has focused on professional negligence defense and a variety of civil lawsuits involving personal injury, school and workplace discrimination, wrongful death, police action, and sex abuse. In addition to The Better Witness Handbook, he is co-author of Preparing Witnesses to Give Effective Testimony, a guide for witnesses required to give testimony in various situations and for all types of litigation.