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How We Prepare for Trial

What follows is the procedure in Criminal Trials but can be relevant to trials in the Civil or Family Courts

A successful outcome

A successful outcome rests mostly on preparation

Regretfully, trial courts favour the side with the best case i.e. with the best set of evidence that is then prented in the best manner.

The decision makers – the magistrates, the juries, district judges and all types of tribunals are made up of people, and are therefore fallible.

You may be telling the absolute truth, but your account may not be believed…!

This is the reason we want you to go into the Trial knowing that everything that can possibly be done, has been done, to present your case, in as clear and as persuasive  a manner as possible.

In plenty of time

We want your case ready in plenty of time for the hearing as possible – last minute adjustments may create unnecessary stress, and possibly extra legal costs.

Accepting your account

The object is to persuade the Trial Court to accept your account of what happened and not that of the prosecution witnesses.

This firm is well known for the depth of our trial preparation but of course we need your help to begin doing this as early as possible to seize the best advantage possible.

Your Statement

We will take a statement from you that is as full as possible and which contains

  • your background,
  • your detailed account of what happened,
  • your reasons (if any) why prosecution witnesses are not telling the truth or disagree with you,
  • details of any witnesses we can call upon, and
  • any other evidence which may help your account to be accepted (or the prosecution’s case to be disbelieved)

We give you a copy of your typed up statement for you to alter it or add to and so make it as complete as possible.

We will re-type it as many times as is needed to ensure it fully reflects your account.

We will also give you advice on whether or not you should give evidence yourself in court.

Your Comments on the Prosecution Case

When the prosecution witnesses give their account we will  cross-examine them. and also put to them what you say happened.

You may want us to ask particular questions of one of their witnesses and will ask you mention this to us as soon as it occurs to you (even during the trial).  We do not want any important points to be missed.

We will also do our best to have you sitting next to us during the trial hearing to allow you to communicate to us as the evidence unfolds.

Witness Statements

We do rely upon you to provide contact details for as many witnesses as possible.

Witnesses, especially those who are completely independent,  are your strongest chance to have the Magistrates prefer your account to that of the prosecution

We prefer  to see your witnesses at our office as we have all the facilities there needed, but we can and do make home visits if this is necessary.

We will discuss with your witnesses exactly what happened during the incident, and note their response to the allegations made by prosecution witnesses.

Prosecution witnesses

Neither side ‘owns’ a witness. We are one of the very few law firms that regularly attempt to contact, and take further statements, from prosecution witnesses.

This is tremendously helpful for our advocates. It means we do not have to wait for the trial to find out what will be the answer to, what we believe are, important questions that should be raised.

Of course, police officer witnesses refuse to see us to talk to us.  Quite frankly, we have no idea why this should be. If they are telling the truth then there is no reason why they should not see us!. However, there it is.

For other prosecution witnesses we have even visited prisons to see witnesses who the police are calling!

The Law Society recommend that we tape record our meetings with witnesses for the other side to ensure we cannot be accused of pressurising them – and so we do this as a matter of course.

This attention to the detail of even the Crown witnesses is typical of our preparation for trials and continues to contribute to our success outcomes.

Contact Details of Defence Witnesses

Under recent legislation we must now supply to the Crown a copy of the names, dates of birth and address details of any Defence Witnesses we may call.

This is to enable the police to check on them, and in the most serious of cases perhaps to contact them e.g. to check on an alibi.

Of course, your witnesses can refuse to speak to the police – we shall of course inform them of this.

Other Evidence

Depending on the specific requirements of your Trial, we always try to gather independent evidence such as from an expert or photographic evidence.

This helps make your case as persuasive as possible.

Before the Trial

In well good time, and before you give us your full statement, we always supply you with a copy of the papers in the Crown’s case against you, so will know exactly what are said to be the facts of which support the Crown’s case.

We know from experience, that in the months leading up to a trial, your statement may be mislaid. Thus, in most cases, we give you another copy of your evidence in the days leading up to the trial so that you the case is as fresh as possible in your mind.

Last minute points

We also want on to ensure that any last minute points you want us to make are noted down.

We ask you to feel free to contact us at any time to tell us about anything that occurs that  you feel may is important.

Preparing an ‘Action List’

We will make every effort to involve you in the preparation for the trial, including providing a copy of any planned Action List for you to consider.

We can do a huge amount, but we do ask clients to think hard about any extra information they can give us.

How to dress for Court

We have found that how smart someone looks in court can have a bearing on how credible the court views their evidence.

This should not be the case but unfortunately, as we have said, courts are after all run by humans…

We therefore recommend therefore that female clients and witnesses do not wear revealing dress, and appear with the minimum of makeup and jewellery.

Male clients, if they can, should wear a jacket and tie.  We know that nowadays, many men do not normally wear ties, and so we keep a selection to lend out, to save having to buy one specially.

We have found that just the act of making an effort for a court appearance gives a confidence to a witness or client, a certain credibility and poise.