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How to Give Written Testimony

Your day in court doesn't make it your court: respect proper procedure and make sure the information is clear and in order.


  • Step 1: Propose solutions or alternatives. Be polite and firm in offering arguments about the effect legislation or a board ruling would have on the general population.
  • Step 2: Demonstrate good manners in thanking the committee or court for hearing you out, and for taking the time to consider. Sign it and be consoled you've done all you can to help the case.
  • FACT: New York Governor David Paterson was accused in late summer 2010 of giving an "intentionally false testimony" to the state Public Integrity Commission. Criminal charges were being considered.
  • TIP: Accept that your testimony has to be factual, even if it's to accomplish a change in policy from which you may derive benefit. In court, it's a legal document once entered into the record.
  • Step 3: Express an opinion if the testimony is for use in a public issue or social cause. Don't presume to do the court's work by making judgments about a person or events, or you risk undermining your credibility.
  • Step 4: Describe the situation succinctly in the second paragraph and make clear your purpose in testifying.
  • Step 5: Relate the relevant story in the second or third paragraph of the body as you remember it. Avoid any theorizing or guessing. Explain your side in personal terms so that anyone else might understand if they were in the same straits.
  • TIP: Talking about yourself is fine if relevant to the case, but avoid drawing more attention to yourself than to the facts.
  • Step 6: Introduce yourself. Identify your position, relationship, and your connection to the person or events in the case. Make the reason you're providing written testimony for the court clear in the first paragraph.

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