Pinning down a witness

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo

In many criminal cases, the star witnesses are not always the complainant or the defendant. These are strangers to the parties but, by accident or otherwise, are there at the scene when the crime happened.

Through time, however, these witnesses either forget the facts, become  indifferent, or even grow hostile. When meeting initially with these witnesses, we usually suggest that the meeting be done at our office. After our interview, we give him a pen and paper and ask him to write down in his own words what he just narrated to us. Or, if the witness is too lazy to do so, we ask a secretary to type it up in affidavit form. Then we ask the witness to review it and if he finds any inconsistency, inaccuracy or even falsehood, to write down, on the same paper he reviewed, his corrections. Later, if he says he did not understand the affidavit when he signed it, his own written corrections will say otherwise.

Then, we make him swear to the affidavit and we notarize it. In other words, we cement the testimony. That way, the witness will have to commit perjury to deny later what he told us in the interview.

Be prudent about witnesses who are strangers to the parties. They are the best witnesses - because they are disinterested and therefore most credible - but they are also the most difficult to handle, especially when the case had already dragged on for sometime, and his interest on its outcome had waned.