Honesty is a character trait that distinguishes us and gives us a personal sense of pride that we are inherently good people. It is a facet of many religions and theories of morality. It is a trait that many parents try to instill in their children. Honesty matters, as it shapes the way we are perceived and can really be of great benefit to our relationships, our friendships, and our careers. In the opposite sense, dishonesty can also define us in ways we don’t want. One example of this is in a courtroom.
Judges and Juries Make Credibility Determinations
Throughout the American legal system, one of the core legal rights is the right to a trial by a fair and impartial judge or jury. Further, judges and juries are considered fact finders who are tasked with sorting through evidence and weighing this evidence in making its findings. A critical aspect of this fact finding ability is the court’s authority to determine the “credibility” of witnesses.
Further, the fact finder is the sole judge of the credibility of witnesses. This is because an appellate court only has a written transcript to read, while only a judge can observe a witness, look at their body language, look into their eyes, listen to other witnesses, and then decide whether a witness is being truthful. If a judge does not find a witness to be credible, the judge can disregard some or all of that witness’ testimony.
Therefore, credibility is a big deal. This is especially true in cases where courts have broad discretion to determine children’s best interests, to determine whether marital misconduct occurred to justify an alimony award, or to determine whether a person has breached a contract or violated a court’s order.
Some Free Advice
If you are testifying under oath, be honest. Witnesses who are caught in a lie or appear to be hiding something completely lose credibility before a judge or a jury and will suffer for it. If you do not know the answer to a question, respond that you do not know instead of saying something false.
Beyond honesty, it pays to be prepared to testify. In advance of your court dates, prepare with your attorney. Do your homework and review significant timelines and information that you will likely be asked about.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
New Direction Family Law assists clients who want help ending their marriage or who need to resolve child custody issues. Our attorneys are experienced, professional, and compassionate to the needs of our clients during an important time in their lives. If you need legal assistance, contact us today. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. You can reach New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.
Carly G. Baker
New Direction Family Law