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attorneys writing my trial testimony?

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ChoosingHope posted 5/3/2014 10:02 AM

My attorneys are writing my testimony for trial. Is this normal?

I'm a professional writer, and I'm pretty annoyed that I'm paying for this. My attorneys are not good writers, and they can't write in my voice, and I feel like they are taking advantage of the situation.

Can anyone else tell me how it worked for them?

Amazonia posted 5/3/2014 10:37 AM

Uh....that doesn't sound normal. I feel like a professor told us in my paralegal program that you're NOT supposed to do that. Talk to the client about what to say and not say, practice with them, etc. but never put words in their mouth. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but this would make me super uncomfortable if I were you.

tesla posted 5/3/2014 10:45 AM

I can only tell you my experience when I gave testimony at the rule to show cause hearing last fall. Met with my lawyer before the hearing, she told me the list of questions she was going to ask me (they were all softballs...yes or no type questions) and told me to pause before answering any of ex-shat's questions (he represented himself) so she could object.

Granted, that was waaaaaaaaay simpler than what you are going through. But it does strike me as strange that they are writing your testimony out. Certainly worth a "Is this typical procedure?" type question.

Nature_Girl posted 5/3/2014 11:22 AM

My attorney did not write my testimony for any of my court trials. I wrote everything myself, gave it to him well ahead of time, we discussed it, I made necessary edits. The last trial date I did not have to testify, however my statement was included into evidence as written testimony or something to that effect, and I affirmed to the judge that if I were to get on the stand & speak that is what I'd say.

It concerns me that your testimony is being prepared for you. I was coached how to act/react by my attorney, we rehearsed a little on some questions, but he certainly did NOT write my testimony for me.

Merlin posted 5/3/2014 11:27 AM

Courts look like normal places. They are anything but.

You think you understand what's going in. You don't. Yes they use your native language. But under a set of underlying law, rules of evidence and precedents that render what's really happening inscrutable and abstruse.

You are in a gladiator's ring. You chose a professional advocate to fight for you under the rules of that ring.

If you testify, you will use your own words anyway. You won't be allowed to read from a script. If instead your lawyers are structuring your deposition, let them do that.

They understand the law.

cmego posted 5/3/2014 11:54 AM

Choosing…ask for clarification as to why they feel this is important...

sleepless34 posted 5/3/2014 11:55 AM

My lawyer explained to me that the trial is like a play, it is not real. You are playing a part, he is playing a part. The lawyers develop your story and your character based on their experience of what is going to work. They coach you about what to say and how to say it....but to actually write it is a little over the top.

I would ask them to tell you what the strategy is, who your character is, and what mandatory things need to get communicated and then let you try to deliver your own story against their outline.

Good luck

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 12:51 PM

I just want to say that the fact that you have to go through this and ask these kinds of questions because your WS couldn't be faithful or just do the right thing pisses me off on behalf of all of us.

It does seem strange to me that they are scripting your testimony. But I haven't been to court either.

crisp posted 5/3/2014 13:36 PM

Attorney here. Been involved in a lot of litigation and never heard of such a thing. Preparation, including outlines and practice answers to both direct and cross, yes----actual script prepared by the lawyer, never.

woundedby2 posted 5/3/2014 14:12 PM

Are you sure its' "testimony" they are writing up? I'd ask for clarification. Perhaps it is a declarative statement or something. It doesn't sound right that they would be writing up your testimony. And it's expensive for you to be paying them to do this.

clralb posted 5/3/2014 16:41 PM

I'm not an attorney, but I work in court trials every day. I have never, ever heard of an attorney writing out their client's trial testimony.

Are you sure he isn't referring to preparing perhaps interrogatory answers?

Are you to have this script in front of you on the witness stand and read from it as he is asking questions? No judge would allow that. It's downright unethical.

I suggest you talk to your attorney and find out exactly what he is doing.

Attorney here. Been involved in a lot of litigation and never heard of such a thing. Preparation, including outlines and practice answers to both direct and cross, yes----actual script prepared by the lawyer, never.


Exactly.

roughroadahead posted 5/3/2014 17:57 PM

Non-family law litigation heavy here too, and while Merlin is right to an extent, it makes no sense to write out your actual testimony. You're not allowed to sit there and read it anyway. If you had a prior statement, deposition or written record (e.g. if a doctor testifies, the patient chart) the best I can do is show it to you for a moment to refresh your recollection (or alternatively, you can be impeached with prior statements if you're inconsistent on the stand). Your attorney certainly can't refresh your recollection with a script of his/her own preparation.

Is you attorney expecting you to memorize this or something? Are you sure it is your trial testimony, and not an answer to an interrogatory, for example?

ChoosingHope posted 5/3/2014 18:22 PM

I am well into my second year - almost third - of divorcing a NPD. Yes, it's my testimony. The story of MY marriage. And yes, they wrote the entire thing for me when we were supposed to go to court a few months ago. And then the trial was postponed.

NOW they are writing it AGAIN! They are revising it to reflect items in the child custody report that were in my favor. On Friday I told them I did not want them to do this - they told me they had already been working on it - without my permission of course.

I am furious. BTW, I am a writer and editor by trade, and I've worked in the editorial field for more than 20 years! And the lawyer can't write, and I HATE the way she makes me sound. HATE IT.

And it's not like I can't tell my story myself. I told it to the child custody evaluator and he ruled for me.

I wrote to them again this morning and asked for them to send it to me. Crickets back. I can only imagine how much money they are charging me for this.

I hate my attorneys as much as I hate NPD STBX. OH, and YES they are making me memorize it. Like 80 fucking pages.

Amazonia posted 5/3/2014 19:27 PM

Tell them you're not paying for it as you don't want them writing it.

ChoosingHope posted 5/3/2014 21:47 PM

Thanks, Ama. If I told them that, they would freak out and tell me to find another law firm. Plus they've already written it. So I'll be charged for it.

Trial is in a few weeks - hopefully. I need to keep pushing through all of this noise and get it all over with. It's been nearly three years, fighting NPD STBX. I am sure I will still get charged, but I am going to wrestle it back from them and rewrite it.

I have to say that I have no respect left for my attorneys. This is one of a dozen issues like this.

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