By: Sarah T. McCain
When your case entails contested litigation and moves towards a court hearing, you and the other party will ultimately need to present your evidence and arguments to the judge. The end result of your hearing will be the entry of orders regarding the various issues. Hearings scheduled by the court can range from as little as thirty minutes to several days. Post-decree modification hearings might take two hours, while a contested, final divorce hearing could be set for all day. In all proceedings, the time to present your testimony and arguments (your case) will generally be split equally between the two sides. As such, it’s important to make sure that your time is not only used wisely but that you also make the best impression you can while presenting your testimony to the court. Getting to the truth and assessing witness credibility is one of the primary goals of any court proceeding.
Following the testimony of both parties and any other witnesses, the court will provide its order to the parties. During this order, the judge or magistrate will generally make a finding as to the credibility of the parties and any other witnesses. This determination of credibility, or not, could have a significant impact on what the court ultimately concludes. You may be saying the right things in terms of your story or conveying relevant facts, but if the court does not find you to be credible (truthful), it may not matter. Some witnesses have built in credibility. These include, but are certainly not limited, to professionals who review the case, public persons, such as police officers, or perhaps neutral witnesses, with no vested interest in the outcome. As a lay witness with an interest in the hearing, it’s important to make sure your credibility stays intact and there are things that you can do to ensure that your credibility is not questioned. Continue reading