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10 Tips for Presenting Your Case in Court

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There are certain tricks of the trade to presenting your case in court. Following are 10 tips to help you in your efforts in presenting your case:

  1. Observe other trials. Before you have your day in court, you might want to go to the court in which your case will be heard and observe the judge and the proceedings. This will give you a better idea of what to expect procedurally and what the judge's courtroom is like and make you somewhat more relaxed for your own trial. Observing other trials will give you information on how to act and how to dress appropriately for that particular courtroom.
  2. Be prepared. Do your homework. Know what to expect. Interview all of your witnesses and make arrangements for them to be available to testify. Have all of your exhibits ready. Have necessary copies of all documents that you will provide to opposing counsel and the judge. Prepare a trial notebook that will guide you throughout the case.
  3. Be polite, courteous, and respectful to all parties. This includes the judge, jurors, court personnel, your witnesses, opposing counsel, opposing party, and opposing witnesses. This cannot be overemphasized. It is a good idea to refrain from being overly argumentative with opposing counsel and from making too many objections in open court. You can be certain that the jury and the judge will observe every move you make while you are in front of them.
  4. Tell a good story. Develop a believable and consistent theme for your case. You should present your case in a manner that is convincing and compelling. If your case involves complicated issues, you should attempt to present those issues in lay terms.
  5. Show the jury; don't tell. Don't just stand up in court in front of the jury or the judge and tell them about your case. Use movement, inflection, props, visual aids, exhibits, videos, and anything else to keep the judge and jury interested and attentive.
  6. Admit and dismiss your bad facts. Be prepared to do damage control when the other side brings up the flaws in your case. Bring up your bad facts on your own, discuss them, deal with them, and move on.
  7. Present admissible evidence that establishes each and every element of your claims and any defenses you might have. Make sure that the evidence you plan to use to prove your case is admissible in court. Do your own research on admissibility of evidence. The rules of evidence are complicated.
  8. Respect and pay attention to the jury. If you are in front of a jury, you should always be respectful and pay attention to the jury's reactions. This is the body that will render a decision on your behalf. In addition to presenting the law and facts of your case, you should also be aware of when further demonstration or explanation is required.
  9. Never ask a question in open court to which you don't already know the answer. This is true even if you are questioning your own witness.
  10. Make proper objections and use opportunities to approach the bench in court. Although objections and approaching the bench both cause disruptions in the flow of court proceedings, you need to balance these against making an important point, getting clarification, and making a proper record for appeal.

For more information, go to the Litigation section of the Legal Center at AllBusiness.com.

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