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Direct Examination of Fact Witnesses

NCJ Number
Trial Volume: 25 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1989) Pages: 107,109-110,113-114
H Weitz
Date Published
5 pages
A direct examination is the plaintiff's first and best opportunity to present his side of a case to the trier of fact.
The ultimate goal is to elicit the observations of each witness clearly and logically and in a way best calculated to convince the trier of the proposition being advanced. The first rule is that cases are won by having the best witnesses, not the most witnesses. Too many accounts of one incident desensitizes jurors to the incident's import and can produce inconsistencies among the testimonies. The "batting order" of the witnesses should correspond with the key elements that formulate the theory of the case. The debate on when the plaintiff, best witness, adverse witness, or opposing party should testify is discussed. Preparing witnesses is perhaps the most crucial aspect of a direct examination because it provides the opportunity for counsel to evaluate the witness, review the testimony, and prepare the witness for opposing counsel's cross examination. The witness should be counseled on the courtroom presence and demeanor and how a trial is conducted.