The Importance of Witness and Testimonial Gathering

Everyone’s account of an event tends to differ slightly. However, witnesses should be able to present the most factual, clear and concise version of what they observed.


The legal community plays an important role in ensuring that testimonial evidence is presented and evaluated properly. Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys must follow New York’s evidentiary rules to ensure a fair trial.

Gathering Evidence

Despite the advances in technology that have made our lives so much easier, two things remain constant: the need to gather and organize evidence and the importance of witness and testimonial gathering.

Testimony, or witness evidence, consists of a person telling the court about specific facts and events from their own knowledge and experience. It is one of the most important types of evidence in any case. Witness testimony can provide a crucial, external perspective that may help establish fault or give clarity on what happened.

Witnesses may be the key to establishing liability, especially in cases that involve an accident. In addition to providing an unbiased account of the events, witnesses offer the added benefit of being on-scene observers. This type of evidence is not as reliable as scientific or forensic evidence, but it can still be valuable in constructing an accurate picture of what occurred.

In deciding whether or not to admit testimony, the court must first consider if it is material, relevant, and competent. A piece of evidence is considered material if it is essential to the case; it is relevant if it proves something that the jury would not otherwise have known; and a competent witness is someone who can answer questions at trial about the matters in question. Testimony is also subject to the same rules of admissibility as other forms of evidence, including reliability and the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause.

Preparing for Testimony

Before any witness ever steps into the courtroom, it’s important to prepare them extensively for their testimony. Depending on the importance of the case and the nature of the testimony, this can range from a simple meeting with a tip sheet to involving professional experts in extensive research, training and simulations.

One of the most critical elements of this preparation is to ensure that your witness can clearly communicate their version of events, including how they know what they know. It’s also important to determine whether they will need to reference any documents or exhibits during their testimony. If they do, make sure they are familiar with the document and can describe it as well as identify any signatures that are relevant to the dispute.

During the testimony preparation session, it’s helpful to have a second attorney or paralegal in the room to observe and assess how the witness comes across on the stand. This allows the lawyer to quickly identify any verbal or physical mannerisms that may be distracting, which can make the witness seem less credible.

Also, it’s crucial to remind the witness that their testimony will be under oath and that they must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Witnesses who attempt to put any type of spin on their testimony leave themselves vulnerable to devastating cross examination by attorneys skilled at exposing inconsistencies and discrepancies in their testimony.


As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.” A thorough review of a prosecution witness brief is the foundation for your cross-examination. Reading the brief with a pen, highlighter and stack of post-its will help you understand the case from all angles.

Your goal is to have the witness confirm facts beneficial to your client’s case and to attack or discredit a prosecutor’s witnesses. The road to this destination is dictated by your strategic, leading questions based on a thorough review of the witness’s prior testimony in depositions and at trial and relevant admissible evidence.

Ineffective cross-examination often starts by getting the witness to in effect repeat her or his initial testimony, known as direct examination. This gives weight to the witness’s version of events and undermines your ability to question her or him about inconsistencies.

A common example is the witness’s inconsistent statement of what he or she saw during a crime. It is essential to point out the inconsistency and to question about the consistency of the witness’s testimony over time (remember that memory can be faulty). If the witness denies making an earlier statement, it is important to call evidence of that written statement.

Summarizing Testimony

Having a summary of deposition testimony is helpful for both parties involved in the case. It saves attorneys time as they can quickly reference the main points and allows them to prepare witnesses for trial without the need to repeat questions. This can help to speed up the trial process and result in a faster verdict.

Summarizing a testimony requires reading through the transcript and focusing on the questions asked by the attorneys and the witness’s responses. This involves annotating and highlighting the key points that need to be included in the summary. Then, the highlighted portions are organized into a specific format for ease of use. This could include an outline or narrative layout. The final product is then compiled into a document with the page and line numbers, if applicable, displayed in the margins of the document.

Testimonials are powerful marketing tools for businesses and can significantly increase customer trust. They can convey the value and effectiveness of your products or services in a way that’s more relatable to your target audience than advertising copy. However, a testimonial is more effective when it’s written or spoken in the respondent’s own words. In addition, the design of a testimonial can help it to stand out to consumers who are often skimming websites or social media feeds.