Does the judge know what you and your witness are talking about?

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
17-Jan-2008

 

In one "episode" during the nationally televised impeachment trial of Erap, a senator-judge -- as far as I can recall, it was Sen. Raul Roco -- suggested that the examining counsel distribute copies of the documents he was referring to during the direct examination of a witness. Sen. Raul Roco complained that he was having difficulty following the testimony of the witness because he did not have a copy of the document that the lawyer and the witness were constantly referring to in their questions and answers.

You will observe that this also happens in regular trials.

So, when you are either on direct or cross, and you're using a document that you want the witness to refer to when answering, prepare at least 4 copies of the document: one on which you scribble your questions (thus, doubling as your notes); two, the original to confront the witness with; three, the photocopy that you will mark as evidence after comparison with the orginal; and the last copy to give to the judge as you go along the testimony of the witness.

When you give the judge his copy though, remember that it must be what it purports to be. In other words, you need to authenticate it first. So, before giving it to the judge (and of course, before starting out with the meat of the direct or cross exam), have the witness identify it first and the opposing lawyer compare it with the original. That way, the judge is assured that what he's holding is a faithful reproduction of the original of the document.

Note that, during a trial, your foremost audience is the judge; it's your job to make it easy for him, as the fact-finder, to find the facts, especially those that are favorable to your case.