Skip to Main Content

Trial Preparation: A Beginner’s Guide

Preparing Witnesses for Trial

When discussing the use of witnesses at trial, attention often focuses on the use of witnesses in criminal actions, such as how eyewitness identifications are made External or whether improper behavior, like witness tampering External, has affected the outcome of a trial. However, witnesses are a critical part of both civil and criminal trials, and they can be essential to proving your case and challenging the claims of your opponent.

To be able to utilize witnesses in a way that best helps your case, you must not only understand the procedural rules regarding who can testify and what they can testify about, but you must also make sure that the witnesses themselves are ready for court. The goal of this portion of the Beginner’s Guide is to provide you with the resources you need to prepare and examine a witness, and thus, ensure that the witnesses you call add value to your case.


As with many of our research guides, we suggest that those who are new to the experience of subpoenaing and examining witnesses first turn to a secondary resource, such as a treatise or a legal encyclopedia, to get a grounding in what witnesses are and what they can do. Below, please find a listing of some helpful secondary resources in the area:


The titles listed below link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are provided when available.

Online Resources

Below, please find some selected online resources: