In Anatomy of a Witness List Hon. Michael L. Stern writes that “each witness should tell the next part of your story and move your case forward.”
The order in which witnesses are called at trial can make or break a case. The process of preparing a witness list, including careful consideration of who to call, when and why, may forecast a verdict even before counsel step into the courtroom for trial.
It is vital to determine which witnesses will provide maximum impact at different points int a trial. Each (expert) witness must be evaluated as a potential “opener,” “closer,” or “sleeper.” Some witnesses can persuasively establish or refute liability on damages issues. Others are better for introduction of documentary or other exhibits. Sometimes witnesses must be called adversely for essential information or taking the edge off problem areas. Above all, calling any witnesses requires strategic thinking, not simply conjuring up an arbitrary list of persons with potential testimony.
From Advocate Magazine, June 2008.