Witness Bias in Florida
Choosing your witnesses carefully:
A good lawyer analyzes what their witnesses are going to testify to and how they are going to testify to it. They analyze how their witness’s relationship with the Defendant will play a role in how credible a witness comes across to a jury.
What is witness bias?
Witness bias is when the witness may have a motivation to lie on behalf of one of the parties involved with the case. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are liars or they did lie, but that simply they are a biased witness in some way.
What can the state do to combat witness bias?
If the Defendant calls a biased witness, the State is allowed to confront that witness about the nature of their relationship. They can ask them if they would be willing to lie for them. They can get into depth on what exactly the nature of the relationship is and how deeply that connection goes. What appears to be a good witness can quickly become a bad witness, after they are attacked by an aggressive state attorney in ways that may undermine their entire argument. Therefore choosing the right witnesses is important.
Example of witness bias:
An example of witness bias is likely found in the example of a Defendant’s mother testifying on behalf of the Defendant. Is the Defendant’s mother telling the court that her son was home with her when the murder happened? Is that believable? Should a good trial strategy be calling her or not calling her? Determining whether your witness should testify is sometimes a difficult question. Although a credible parent, friend, loved one can carry the day in some cases, it’s entirely possible that the wrong family member could provoke a jury in a negative way. These types of decisions are often difficult. Your lawyer has the experience to help go through the evidence, go through your witnesses, and determine what is best for your particular case.
More isn’t always better:
Calling as many witnesses as possible is not always the most tactical move in a criminal case. For example, In a murder trial, is it better that three neutral witnesses testify on behalf of the Defendant or is it better to have ten witnesses, only three of which are unbiased? If you call too many biased witnesses, the message the jury may be hearing is “WITNESS BIAS” over and over again. The three credible witnesses could very well be drowned out by the biased witnesses that surround them. Again, there are no hard and fast rules. An experienced trial attorney can help you navigate the court system and help you make the right strategic decisions with your case.