Suggestions for Your Day in Court

If you receive a subpoena to testify in as a witness, you may have questions as to what you are supposed to do before and during your day in court.  We have developed this list of suggestions to help you.

Be prepared.  In the days before you testify, refresh your memory of the event.  Think about the details of the incident before coming to court.  Remember that you can only testify as to what you recall and not what someone else told you or said happened.

You will probably be contacted to meet with the prosecutor if you are a subpoenaed witness for a jury trial.  This trial preparation will likely occur within a few days of the trial date.

If your scheduled event is in the morning, you should call 989-785-8070 the afternoon before to see if the event is still going to take place.  If the event is scheduled to take place in the afternoon, you may call 989-785-8070 the morning of the event to verify whether it is going as scheduled.

Your Day in Court

When the day arrives for you to appear in court, remember these hints:

1.      Dress neatly and conservatively, as if you were going to church.

2.     If you have a subpoena, bring it with you.  Present it to the Prosecutor’s Office when you arrive at the courthouse.  The Prosecutor’s Office is located in the C section of the courthouse.  Using the parking lot behind the courthouse is usually most convenient and the entrance is handicapped accessible.

3.     Arrive at the courthouse at least 20 minutes early.  You will probably want to arrive at the Prosecutor’s Office at least 15 minutes before your case is scheduled to start.  If you received a subpoena, make sure to check the specific time indicated.

4.     The Prosecutor involved in your case may want to speak with you before the court event to discuss your testimony or the case itself (if you are the victim).  Sometimes, when you arrive early, time is limited.  If you have any questions, write them down and bring them with you.

5.     In the courtroom, avoid any disruptive behavior.  A courtroom is a serious place and humor is not appropriate.  Keep any comments to yourself.  Do not bring children unless they are subpoenaed.  The Prosecutor’s Office does not offer day care and children can be a distraction in the courtroom! 

6.     Remember that members of the jury may see you outside of the courtroom while your case is in progress.  Your words and actions should always reflect well on you.


When Testifying

1.     Most important, be honest.  You are required to tell the truth.

2.     Pay attention to each question and try to stay calm.  There is no reason to be nervous, but it is understandable that everyone is somewhat nervous in a new situation.  Try to relax.  Sometimes, a few deep breaths can help.  If you think you may become emotional, have a few tissues handy.

3.     Do not chew gum while testifying.  This shows disrespect to the court and can make it difficult to hear and record your words.

4.     When answering a question, speak clearly and loudly enough so that the judge and/or each member of the jury is able to hear and understand you.

5.     The Prosecutor will guide you through your testimony by the questions she asks.  Prosecutor’s questions usually call for narrative answers allowing you to tell of the event in a “when, where, who, what, and how” manner.

6.     Listen to each question carefully and be sure that you understand it before answering.  If you need to have the questions repeated or do not understand the question, say so.  Do not be embarrassed by this.  It is important that your answer is accurate based on the truthful testimony you are giving.

7.     Answer each question as directly as possible with a “yes” or “no” or a brief explanation.  Do not offer any more information than is required by the question.

8.     Remember that you can only testify as to what you yourself heard or saw, not what someone else told you happened.

9.     If you realize that you have answered a question incorrectly, be sure that you correct yourself.

10.                        If the judge or attorney should interrupt you or object, stop talking immediately and do not continue with your answer.  Wait until the judge tells you to continue or someone asks another question.

11.                        If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.  Do not speculate or make up and answer if you are asked the same question again or in a similar manner.

12.                        Under all circumstances be polite.  Remember that the job of the defense attorney is to ask questions, even if they are upsetting to you.  Do not argue with the attorneys.

13.                        After you have finished testifying, the Prosecutor will ask the judge to release you from your subpoena.  Once you have been released you may remain in the courtroom, return to the Prosecutor’s Office or leave the courthouse.

Usually, there is time after a court proceeding to have your questions answered by the Prosecutor.  If you have questions, please return to the Prosecutor’s Office when court is adjourned.