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Succinct, Honest Testimony (First Quarter 2011)

  • 12/08/2010 10:05 AM
    Message # 476988


    As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to periodically evaluate your employees’ testimony. While watching one of your employees testify, you observed that he precisely and succinctly answered each question put to him. However, the questions posed by the attorneys were phrased in such a way that pertinent testimony was not heard by the jury. When you pointed this out to your employee, his response was that he listened carefully to what was being asked and answered everything honestly and completely without adding information not asked for. He added that it’s not his problem if the attorneys don’t know what to ask.

  • 02/06/2011 9:35 PM
    Reply # 517192 on 476988
    Raymond Davis
    I would agree with the witness if there had been no pre-trial conference. The witness must respond to questions posed by counsel and avoid providing answers to questions the attorney should have asked. After the testimony, the supervisor now has the opportunity  to inform his/her colleague the importance of the pre-trial conference. The best time for counsel to understand the value of the physical evidence is not through hit and miss questions at trial,  but rather, prior to trial so questions can be adequately posed. 
  • 04/18/2011 5:21 PM
    Reply # 573154 on 476988
    Carol Hunter

    Although a pretrial conference is ideal, it does not always occur. And consider this issue if tthe witness is working for the defense attorney and does not have the opportunity for a pretrial interview with the prosecution. I think that the witness should try to answer the questions fully and if the question does not help him(her) to fully explain the meaning of the evidence, then the answer should be expanded upon. Now, having said that, there are  times that an attorney will object that the answer is beyond the question. But at least the witness will have let the court know that there is a more indepth answer to be given.

    There are testimony techniques that help the expert to fully explain him(her)self.

  • 05/10/2011 8:04 AM
    Reply # 588013 on 476988
    Pete Barnett
    Section III(G) of the CAC Code of Ethics states, "It is not the object of the criminalist's appearance in court to present only that evidence which supports the view of the side to which he or she is employed. The criminalist has a moral obligation to see to it that the court understands the evidence as it exists and to present it in an impartial manner."

    I think "understands the evidence as it exists" is a key phrase here.  If the answer to the question does not allow the court (and presumably everyone else in the courtroom) to "understand the evidence as it exists" then the criminalist has an obligation to expand the answer beyonmd the question.  If the court objects, then the proper answer is "I cannot answer that question."  Remember tha the oath you take is to "tell the whole truth."
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