Articles Tagged with witness

Published on:

District-Court-LogoI had a district court trial—it was complicated liability dispute before Judge John Green in Baltimore City District Court.  In this auto accident collision we sued the other driver, and the other driver sued us.  This was a classic red light/green light case, which boils down to he-said/she-said when there are no independent witnesses.

An independent witness is a person who is unaffiliated with either party who sees the auto accident.  Independent is important—friends and relatives are more likely to lie to help their friends and relatives, so they have a bias, an incentive, to lie (even while under oath).

In our case, there were no independent witnesses.  However, there was a police officer who talked to the parties immediately after the collision.  In a trial, that police officer could testify about what the parties said, even if one of them hypothetically told the police officer that he “didn’t know what color his light was.”

Published on:

Pinocchio.jpgIt’s a simple word, credibility. Basically, it means a person’s believability. A person may not be credible because he has a history of lying, or because what he says doesn’t make sense when taken with other more believable facts.

In our recent trial, which was a liability dispute with no independent witnesses (we commonly call these “he-said, she-said” cases, regardless of gender), every single lawyer used the word credibility in opening statement and closing argument. Essentially, we all argued that our clients were credible, that the other side did not testify credibly, and sometimes that the witnesses were somewhat credible. It’s standard fare for a trial.

In a trial, credibility is the most important thing a witness or a party has. If the judge or jury has any reason to doubt that person’s truthfulness on any single point, even something unrelated, that doubt can cast a shadow on every point of that person’s testimony. That’s why some lawyers will fight hard to find a lie or a mis-rembering in testimony. It can be the difference between a win and a loss.