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Plaintiff Etiquette – What to NOT Say in Court

If you’re a lawyer, you already know what your clients should never say in court. But what about those lawyers who are not aware of them or simply don’t communicate them to their clients?

Lawyers may tap the hands of their clients when they’re about to say something bad, but they can’t do so while they’re on the stand, for example. Moreover, clients sometimes can’t be stopped unless you cover their mouths, especially if you’re a criminal defense lawyer and have an angry client by your side.

Given the above, we came up with some points you can share with your clients before the big day. Here is what a plaintiff should avoid saying in court!

Planned Speech

The basic rule for testimonies is to avoid delivering a speech that sounds rehearsed, memorized, and/or planned because it will make you, the plaintiff, sound unconvincing and may affect the result of the case.

Therefore, make sure to speak in your own words and analytically answer questions – don’t try to remember planned responses but build them on the spot from what you know about the case.

Angry Speech

Naturally, angry speech contributes to how unconvincing you sound when testifying. It also makes you look less objective than the judge may think you are.

Moreover, angry reactions out of the blue may have the judge think you are exaggerating facts and just trying to get a positive outcome for yourself.

Never Blame Someone Else

We refer to when plaintiffs forget documents or simply weren’t informed to bring certain ones. When something like this happens, never try to explain yourself and/or try to shift the blame on another person, be it your lawyer or staff members of the court.

The best thing to do is apologize to the judge and your lawyer if needed. It’s much better to do so than waste time with explanations.

The 6 Forbidden Words

In a courtroom, the plaintiff must sound as trustworthy as possible when talking to and for the judge. Why? Because the judge and the jury must be able to relate to your case and particular situation and, ultimately, rule in your favor.

But some can destroy the trust plaintiffs build during a trial. They are: heretofore, notwithstanding, aforementioned, but for, assuming arguendo, and whereas. It goes without saying why these words may come off as part of a rehearsed, planned speech.

Definitive Statements

In court, during a trial, the things that you can say are, usually, things that you can remember (or not). As such, you cannot make definitive and set-in-stone statements on almost anything.

Don’t say things like “that’s everything that happened” unless you’re 100% certain that’s exactly how and what happened. Instead, opt for things like “that is everything I can remember.” The latter also allows you to amend the statement, in case you recall more in the future.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, wording truly is crucial!

Besides the usual don’t get angry, don’t be sarcastic, don’t be rude, there are also certain words that plaintiffs should avoid if they want to avoid damaging their case.


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