Witnesses

“Why don’t they just tell the truth?” I hear that a lot when I tell clients that much depends on the witnesses we and the other side can bring to the case to tell what happened. The problem is that most people (there are habitual liers in the world, but that’s a whole ‘nother story for a different day’s blog) do tell “the truth” as they saw it….but that isn’t always the same thing the guy standing next to them saw. A lawyer once told me of a case he’d been in which involved a serious accident at a four-way intersection. All of the participants in the accident and the bystanders had strong testimony about who had which color light when the cars entered the intersection, though few of them agreed with each other. But the truth was that there was that there was no power on the light at all. No one had any color light, but that didn’t stop the witnesses from describing what they saw. We don’t see with our eyes, but rather with our brains. The eye is just a camera that sends images to our brain which interprets what it’s getting within its own experience and capability. Often in cases I’ve taken the depositions of witnesses who describe in detail what happened, but at some point say that they heard the collision and then looked up, or turned around, and saw the vehicles spinning from the wreck. Their mind then recreated the scene so that it made sense to them.  I’ve been in cases where witnesses and/or parties testify as to the way a fall occurred, only to have the video surveillance camera record completely contradict their versions. Everybody remembered it differently than the camera recorded.  Just because one witness doesn’t agree with another, or with the client, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t telling “the truth”….it’s just not the same truth as the one someone else saw.  The important thing is what will the jurors, the ones who get to make the decisions, find credible?  Everything depends on what their minds’s eyes “see” when the witnesses are testifying.

About johngrice

Retired small town lawyer, lifelong motorcyclist, traveler and old guy sitting around thinking.
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