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WITNESS INTERVIEW

Witness interview is an integral part of a case, be it for the prosecution or the


defense. It is a strategy for both parties, not only to strengthen their cases, but also
to obtain and impart information. Of course, interviewing of a witness is not solely
done by the lawyers of each parties, investigating or interviewing a witness is also
done by the police. However, all of them aims to obtain accurate and reliable
accounts from such witnesses.
As part of pre-trial, conducting an interview of a witness can be tricky. Not
only is it hard to identify a potential witness in every case, there is also a problem in
regard to their willingness to testify in a trial. Before a witness is interviewed, a
counsel, may first opt to check the documentary evidence or the object evidence
available in a case to provide further knowledge.
A group of lawyers in the United States of America have provided for a
general steps in interviewing a witness, Greet the witness in a friendly manner. Be
relaxed and affable to calm the witness. Smile if it seems appropriate. Explain who
you are. Tell the witness why you want to visit. If the witness is a friendly witness,
explain the importance and relevance of the witness' testimony to your case story
and your theory of the case. Confirm the witness' name, address, telephone
numbers, and occupation. If the witness is a friendly witness who has previously
given a favorable written statement, show the witness his previous statement and
have the witness review it. Then have the witness tell you, without interruption,
what s/he knows in a free, running narrative. Listen very carefully to what the
witness says. When the witness completes the uninterrupted story of what s/he
knows, question the witness in detail on all the relevant aspects of the story. 1
With regard to the preceding paragraph, this is where a lawyer devotes his
earnest efforts in order to win the case. Using this methods, a lawyer now knows the
facts thoroughly because he has statements from the witnesses and reports from
the police. He can now compare the facts of the case in order to point out the
inconsistencies made which can be used to impeach the witness of the adverse
party or to favor the witness of the party.
Justice Pamaran stated three things a lawyer must aim in interviewing a
witness, First, to find out all the facts known to the witness, as well as his
interpretation thereof; Second, to secure a written record of the facts to refresh the
witness recollection later on or to impeach him if he goes against his previous
statements; and third, to befriend the witness. 2 These points further the
importance of intensively getting the facts out in a possible witness in a case.
1 Moses, Ray. Date Accessed: May 31, 2016, 0126H. Interviewing and Advising a
Witness. http://trial-advocacy.homestead.com/advicetowitness.html.
2 Pamaran, Manuel R. Trial Practice in Philippine Courts. page 37. Sixth Edition.
2004. Central Publishing.

A client may also be witness in his own case. Though he is the client, it is
better if the version of facts is heard first from the report and witnesses rather than
the client. An investigation prior client interview is favored because there are things
a client might not divulge so it is better if a lawyer already has knowledge of certain
facts of the case.
To summarize, in interviewing a witness, the prosecution and the defense
should follow these steps: (1) Study the report from the Police officers; (2)
Investigate first the crime scene and evidence to know who are the possible
witnesses; (3) If a witness is found, the lawyer must always be empathetic of the
witness position in order to get him talking; (4) Always write notes; (5) Among the
possible candidates, distinguish who is relevant and who is not.