To Testify or Not to Testify…That is the Question.
Few topics are discussed among lawyers more. Should you put your client on the stand or not? Sometimes it’s just not an option for any number of reasons. Maybe your client has a criminal history that has too much to impeach with. Maybe your client told so many inconsistent versions of a story to the police that there is no way he will come off as credible. Some lawyers never put a client up unless there is a critical point in the defense that cannot be proven by another witness. I used to fall into that category. However, the more jurors I speak with, the more I am convinced that your client should testify unless it does a great deal of damage to your case. One day on the elevator at the courthouse, a juror who had been deliberating on a murder case (not mine) told me that he was frustrated that the lawyer “put up no defense.” I asked him what he meant and he said that the lawyer didn’t even put his client on the stand.
I think that if you are going to ask a jury to acquit your client, they expect them to at least get up and say, “I didn’t do it.” This expectation can be tempered somewhat in jury selection by educating them on the topic, but I think you are never going to completely get by it. Jurors want to hear from your client.
The last trial I won, I put my client on the stand and she testified. We won that case. I am convinced that if she had not testified, the jury would have convicted her.
The moral of the story is that lawyers ought to consider putting their clients on the stand more often and not simply rest there case. The jurors all think that if they were wrongly accused of something, they would be telling anyone that would listen…especially their jury.