The Witness Stand : A Guide for Clinical Social Workers in the Courtroom book cover
1st Edition

The Witness Stand
A Guide for Clinical Social Workers in the Courtroom

ISBN 9780789011459
Published June 12, 2001 by Routledge
142 Pages

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Book Description

Learn reliable techniques to prepare and present effective testimony!

“Soon after leaving graduate school I was thrown to the courtroom wolves with no preparation. No social worker should have to go through that,” says Janet Vogelsang, author of The Witness Stand. Few colleges of social work prepare their students for the inevitable involvement with the courts entailed by their profession. This timely book provides you with a blueprint for presenting yourself as a competent and credible professional in court cases.

This indispensable guide tells exactly what happens in court, how to counter common strategies for discrediting your profession, and what to do when your client's attorney is obnoxious. The Witness Stand emphasizes the biopsychosocial assessment as the essential tool for a social worker called on to testify in court. Its helpful features include sample forms and affidavits and actual court testimony. The end-of-chapter summaries can be used for rapid review and as a ”to do” checklist for preparing a court case.

The Witness Stand offers practical, detailed advice on such matters as:

  • how the legal system works
  • how to handle contacts with attorneys and investigators
  • what to do with documents and files
  • how to prepare your testimony
  • how to handle direct testimony and cross-examination
  • how to define your social work expertise on the stand
  • what to wear when you go to court
The Witness Stand can help you deal with the anxiety-provoking complexities of the legal system. Instead of being confused or intimidated by legal arcana, you will be well-prepared, well-organized, and ready to present yourself as the confident, reliable professional you are.

Table of Contents


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Conclusions About the Witness Stand
  • How to Use This Book
  • Chapter 1. How the Court System Works
  • Types of Courts and Rules of Evidence
  • Types of Witnesses
  • American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts
  • Depositions
  • The Affidavit
  • Discovery
  • Legal Definitions
  • The Court System and Definitions: Summary
  • Chapter 2. The Biopsychosocial Assessment As Expertise
  • Relearning the Biopsychosocial Assessment
  • Case Example and Testimony Using the Biopsychosocial Assessment
  • Biopsychosocial Assessment Questionnaires
  • The Biopsychosocial Assessment: Summary
  • Chapter 3. Working with the Lawyer on Your Case
  • Example of Testimony Without Reference to the Client
  • Working with the Lawyer on Your Case: Summary
  • Chapter 4. Investigators and Investigations
  • Checklist for Investigations
  • Asking for an Investigator
  • Investigators and Investigations: Summary
  • Chapter 5. Interviews
  • Sample Interview with a Mother
  • Sample Interview with Military Personnel
  • Interviews: Summary
  • Chapter 6. Records
  • Sample of Direct Testimony from Records
  • Sample of Cross-Examination on the Records
  • Sample of Direct Testimony in a Sexual Abuse Case
  • Records: Summary
  • Chapter 7. Interviewing Other Experts
  • Example of Testimony Regarding Other Experts
  • Interviewing Other Experts: Summary
  • Chapter 8. Research and Other Publications
  • Case Example 1
  • Sample of Testimony Regarding Publication of Civil Suit
  • Case Example 2
  • Sample of Testimony Using Literature on Sexual Trauma
  • Research and Other Publications: Summary
  • Chapter 9. Visual Aids
  • Examples of Visual Aids
  • Example of Testimony Using Visual Aids
  • Visual Aids: Summary
  • Chapter 10. Preparation of Testimony
  • Themes, Conclusions, and Sources
  • Tell the Attorney About Your Opinions
  • Preparing Direct and Cross-Examination
  • Preparation of Testimony: Summary
  • Chapter 11. Qualifying As an Expert
  • Sample of Qualifying Questions for the Clinical Social Work Expert
  • Qualifying As an Expert: Summary
  • Chapter 12. Direct Testimony
  • Laying the Foundation
  • Addressing the Court
  • Direct Testimony: Summary
  • Chapter 13. Cross-Examination
  • The Most Commonly Asked Questions on Cross-Examination
  • Examples of Cross-Examination Questions
  • Cross-Examination: Summary
  • Chapter 14. Courtroom Demeanor
  • Appendix. Tips for Testifying in Court
  • Talk to the Attorney About the Case
  • Preparation
  • On the Witness Stand
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included

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