You likely start out with credibility in the eyes of the judge. After all, you’re an officer of the court. But that initial benefit of the doubt can easily slip away, and once you’ve lost your credibility, the case may not be far behind.
In this short video clip, Chief District Judge Claudia Wilken for the Northern District of California describes two common ways in which attorneys lose credibility in the courtroom.
- Don’t misrepresent anything. Misrepresenting the law or facts may not be intentional, but it will nonetheless impact your credibility. Make sure your citations and statement of fact are not only correct, but that the inferences you draw from them are similarly accurate.
- Avoid hyperbole. You can be persuasive without being derogatory. And keep in mind that the argument you describe as “ridiculous” may be considered very reasonable by the judge. How do you think the judge will take to that?
These tips from Judge Wilken come from CEB’s program Toolbox and Primer for Federal Court Practice, a must-see for anyone practicing in federal court. It offers insightful tips and practical strategies for approaching the federal court system while avoiding common practice pitfalls. For California state court practice, check out CEB’s program Courtroom Conduct: Do’s and Don’ts, and Common Sense.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 10 Tips on How to Be Better Understood in the Courtroom
- Using Social Media? Beware of Ethical Pitfalls (Part 1)
- Mmmm…Donuts! But Can You Bring Them to the Courtroom Staff or Jury?
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