A trial is an orderly method for determining the facts of a dispute, applying the law to those facts, and deciding the case. It is a civilized society’s way of settling arguments peaceably and fairly, in place of “might makes right.” The goal of a trial is simply to do justice.

  • Be Presentable – Court business is a serious matter. Dress accordingly.
  • Be Attentive – Do not lounge and slump. Sit upright in the witness chair and be alert. Listen carefully to every question. If you do not understand something, ask to have it repeated as many times as necessary. Do not answer a question you do not understand. Answer directly, thoughtfully and truthfully.
  • Stay Cool – Do not let the strange and formal environment of the courtroom upset your composure. Be yourself and stay as relaxed as possible.
  • Always Tell the Truth – Every court case is a search for the truth, for what happened. As a witness you are under oath. You are expected to tell the truth always, to the best of your knowledge. The penalties for untruthful testimony are severe.
  • Do Not Argue – No matter which side called you as a witness; be polite and courteous to the Judge or the lawyer asking the questions. Hold your temper and never argue with the person questioning you. Arguments distract from the case and can cause you to forget the question. It could reflect on your believability and tend to lessen the importance of your testimony.
  • Do Not Volunteer Information – Answer only the question being asked. If it cannot be answered by a simple yes or no, then answer in more detail, but stick to the question and do not go beyond it. When answering, distinguish things you know from your own experience from things you may have just heard about or which other people said. Testify only about things you personally know, unless you are asked directly about other people’s opinions and statements.
  • Do Not Second Guess the Question – As a witness, your job is to present the information for which you are asked. It is not your job to decide whether the question is a good question, or whether something else should be asked, or to imagine why a particular question is being asked.
  • Do Not Guess – Answer only what you know or saw yourself. Do not speculate or guess. If you do not know the answer to a particular question, just say so and wait for the next question.
  • Do Not Talk Out of Turn – Sometimes one of the lawyers may object to a question. This is the lawyer’s right. The objection may be raised before you answer the question. When this happens, stop talking right away. The judge will rule on the objection, and then instruct you whether or not to answer the question.
  • Speak to the Jury – If the case is being tried before a jury, direct your answers to them. If it is a case without a jury, answer so that the judge can hear and see you. Eye contact helps to establish your credibility and your relationship with the judge and jury.
  • Speak Clearly – Do not mumble or be vague. The court reporter must be able to record every word. Each juror needs to hear the answers. Speak in a clear and confident tone of voice.
  • Correct Any Mistakes – A wrong answer should be corrected immediately. Unclear answers should be fully explained. Everything goes on the transcript. Do not be embarrassed or hesitate to correct an answer during the time you are on the witness stand. Anyone can make a mistake. If you discover after testifying that you gave incorrect information, you may contact the lawyer who asked you to testify and indicate what the proper response should have been. The lawyer will know whether to correct the record, and how to do it, if necessary.

8th Circuit Court

Hon. Ronald Schafer
Chief Judge

Hon. Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger

Ionia County Circuit Court:
100 W. Main St., Courthouse
Ionia, MI 48846

Montcalm County Circuit Court:
629 N. State St.
P.O. Box 296
Stanton, MI 48888

8:30 AM – Noon &
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

*Note- 8th Circuit Court Judges and Staff alternate from week to week between Ionia and Montcalm.