Your witness: how to make him more credible

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
01-Apr-2008

“If you cannot trust the messenger, why trust the message?” What this means for us trial lawyers is for us to give equal importance to both the story and the story-teller.  The credibility of the testimony must match the credibility of the witness.

 

How do we do this? We “humanize” the witness, give his background, his position in the company he works for, anything that will make him appear to the judge as an intelligent, credible, and unimpressionable person.

 

For instance, consider this testimony:

 

Q  :   How did you come to know the accused?

A  :   He was an employee of our company.

Q  :   What is the name of this company?

A  :   It’s XYZ Corporation.

Q  :   What is your position in XYZ Corporation?

A  :   I am the Vice President for Credit and Collection.

 

Here, the lawyer is telling the judge that this witness occupies an executive position in the company, that this person is intelligent and will not likely take an oath to tell the truth lightly.

 

Q  :   What about the accused?

A  :   He was our Credit and Collection Manager.

Q  :   During his stay in XYZ Corporation, to whom was the accused reporting to as Credit and Collection Manager?

A  :   He was reporting to me.

 

The judge can now be assured that this witness has personal knowledge of the accused, the latter being a subordinate of the former.

 

Q  :   Are there other managers under your supervision?

A  :   Yes, Sir.

Q  :   How many, aside from the accused?

A  :   Five, Sir.

Q  :   And, on the average, how many people do these managers supervise, if any?

A  :   On the average, each of these managers has three people under them.

Q  :   Do you supervise these people under your managers?

A  :   Just indirectly, Sir.

Q  :   What do you mean, indirectly?

A  :   They report directly to their managers, but since these managers report to me, that means I have indirect supervision and also responsibility over them. In fact, if a manager’s position becomes vacant, these people under the manager will have to report directly to me.

Q  :   So, how many people are under your direct and indirect supervision?

A  :   All in all, it’s more or less 21 people, Sir, including the managers.

 

So, the witness has at least 21 people working under him. That speaks well of his integrity, does it not? It is a more or less leadership position; generally, one does not reach this position without some measure of credibility and integrity.