In a perfect world, witnesses will present themselves and cooperate. They will cooperate with you and your attorney while preparing for your big day in court. They will deliver the perfect testimony without any hesitance or hostility.
However, not all personal injury cases are perfect. Nor is any other legal case perfect. Helpful witnesses handle themselves well. But how do you properly handle a witness who is more hostile than helpful?
Communicate through the Attorney
Do not feel the need to become friends with your eyewitnesses. Their connection to your case needs to be handled on a more professional level than a personal one. This is why you should leave all communications and correspondence to your attorney. Allow your Dallas injury attorney to contact the witness. Doing so will benefit you in two ways.
First, it keeps things professional. This also allows your attorney to preserve their testimony and moderate their connection to the case more readily. Second, it lessens the chances that the witness will appear bias. A witness should always appear neutral or their testimony could be discounted by the judge or jury.
Subpoenas are Useful Tools
The word “subpoena” seems to have a lot of negative connotations and feelings associated with it. Since most people would rather not receive a subpoena, it makes sense why you would hesitate to send one to someone else. This is where the expertise and insight of an experienced injury attorney will come in handy.
Contrary to popular belief, a subpoena is more of a tool than a trap. It is highly recommended to send subpoenas to all eyewitnesses including those who may be friends, relatives or who may cooperative parties. Doing so will help demonstrate the neutrality of the witness thereby appearing more credible in court.
A subpoena will also shift the ball of responsibility to the witness instead of you. If they do not show up at the required date and time, they will be held accountable to the court.
Handle Hostile Witnesses in the Courtroom
Once a subpoena has been issued, the witness no longer has an option of whether or not to attend the trial. However, just because they have to show up does not necessarily mean that he or she will cooperate upon their arrival. As outlined above, the “perfect scenario” is more fantasy than fact in the real world.
This is again why trusting in your Dallas injury attorney is imperative. Your attorney has experience communicating with witnesses outside of court. Your attorney also has experience with handling hostile witnesses inside of court. The witness will have to comply with court orders and not perjure themselves.
If a witness becomes hostile, your attorney may be able to let the judge treat them as hostile. At that point, the attorney is allowed to ask leading questions and extract the testimony more efficiently. This type of opportunity allows an experienced attorney to essentially turn a hostile witness into a helpful one when it matters the most.