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When a lawyer prevents someone from testifying at their own trial

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Legal Malpractice |

There are many reasons why an individual might need to testify during court proceedings. Perhaps someone is a plaintiff in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Their testimony about their experience could have a profound impact on whether the courts agree that they deserve compensation and how much compensation they ultimately receive.

Maybe someone faces accusations of criminal infractions. Their testimony during a trial could help exonerate them or could clarify certain extenuating circumstances that may mitigate their culpability. Lawyers representing people embroiled in a legal matter often spend a lot of time pairing their clients to testify in court. They coach people on how to talk, what details matter the most and even how to dress to appeal sympathetic to jurors.

In some scenarios, a lawyer’s refusal to allow a client to speak on their own behalf in court could constitute malpractice.

Would the testimony have made a difference?

Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney does not provide a client with a professional level of representation. Failure to take certain actions, such as having a client testify, can sometimes constitute legal malpractice. In some cases, having a client testify could make a major difference. Other times, it might put them at a disadvantage.

When a client believes that their testimony could have been the deciding factor in a lawsuit or criminal trial, their lawyer’s refusal to let them take the stand could constitute legal malpractice. Whether or not other lawyers with a similar specialization agree with the client could help them determine if they experienced malpractice or not.

If other lawyers familiar with personal injury lawsuits or similar criminal cases agree that the client’s testimony could have altered the outcome of the case, then there could be grounds to question a lawyer’s decision to prevent someone from speaking on their own behalf. If other competent professionals might have handled the matter differently, the lawyer’s decisions could raise questions about whether they provided competent and effective representation.

Legal malpractice claims can be particularly difficult for people to develop. They often need to communicate with other legal professionals at a time when they likely have very little faith in the competence and professionalism of attorneys in general. Yet, discussing what happened in court and why a lawyer refused to let someone testify could help someone determine whether they have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit or not.