When attending and testifying in court it is extremely important to present confidently in order to have positive outcomes. Many times we allow ourselves to get pulled into unnecessary courtroom drama that diminishes or reduces our effectiveness when testifying. The tips noted below were provided by Children’s Legal Services (CLS) to help us in being better prepared for courtroom situations.
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
If we have integrity in our dealings with each other, the families we serve, the providers and the courts we will be effective in accomplishing our goals. All parties to the cases we work are critical members of the team – if one person on the team is resistant it delays progress of the whole.
CLS believes there are 3 “P’s” that allow us to maintain our integrity when testifying in Court:
§ Make sure you have detailed notes (maybe on index cards)
§ Know your case well (If you are “covering” you still must know the case.)
§ Communicate with your attorney BEFORE the day of court
§ Review the file- maybe develop a timeline
§ Dress for success- Court is a formal event. Dress in professional attire!
§ Be on time to all meetings, staffings, court etc. – or a little early
§ Ensure court documents are provided within time frames for legal for review, file and disseminate.
§ If things have changed since the original document was submitted, be sure to write an addendum and have it available as early as possible (or notify CLS of any immediate changes).
§ Presentation is everything- respond to Judge only; do not argue, answer questions of parent attorney, parent or GAL directly;
§ Use honesty and integrity in all communications and interactions
§ Avoid in courtroom spats, interrupting, excuses, blaming and defensiveness
§ Present evidence and testimony that is relevant and CONCISE
§ Avoid negative body language or emotions (rolling eyes, facial expressions, head shake, etc.)
§ Speak with confidence avoid saying “I think”, “I believe”, “in my opinion” etc.
§ It is OK to say “I don’t know” and to advise you will get the requested information ASAP. Make sure to specify a time-frame when the information will be provided to the court.
§ Treat everyone with respect. Say “sir” or “ma’am” when responding to others
Remember: A detailed and concise written document can avert many questions and confusion.
Don’t forget to use your courtroom voice- the Judge wants to hear you!