Book Review

A New Approach to Witness Preparation

98 percent of the time the deposition is the trial

By Hon. Mark A. Drummond

The Year: 1981
Scene 1
My Old Office

Me: “So, Frank, you’ll take the oath. She’ll ask you questions. She’ll act real nice. She’s not. She’s gonna try to gut you like a trout! So listen very carefully, pause, think about it, and give her the shortest, true answer. Don’t volunteer! Don’t elaborate! Got it?”

Client: “O-KKKAAAY.”

Scene 2 The Deposition

Counsel: “State your name.”

My client: [Sideways look to me, long pause] “Fffffrank [short pause] Joooones.” [heavy sigh]

I exaggerate—but not much.

Reinventing Witness Preparation: Unlocking the Secrets to Testimonial Success

Reinventing Witness Preparation: Unlocking the Secrets to Testimonial Success

Cover image courtesy of ABA Publishing

In Kenneth R. Berman’s seminal new book Reinventing Witness Preparation: Unlocking the Secrets to Testimonial Success, he describes the type of witness preparation I learned and did in the early 1980s as the “conventional approach.” Back then, the mantra was “don’t give the other side anything unless it is clearly in your favor or you are ethically forced to reveal it.” We didn’t trust most clients enough to tell their story—especially at depositions.

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