A difficult witness not only affects counsel, but also the court reporter, and in turn, your transcript!
Here are some tips to preserve an accurate record:
Get the court reporter involved.
While we are normally sitting quietly in our positions, when it comes to witnesses cutting off questions or grunting or hand gestures, court reporters don’t mind jumping in and helping out. Most times the witness is mad at the attorney who is slinging the questions, but they also usually feel bad to hurt us with their antics. This situation can usually be remedied by the court reporter with a polite request and brief explanation to the witness regarding how hard our job is. In turn, this will help keep your transcript clean and accurate.
Experience shows there is something magical in the words “can you mark that question, please.” The everyday witness seems to believe that is code for “I really have him now.” They seem to straighten right up become cooperative instantly!
Don’t forget to put it on the record.
Describe the witness’s behavior for the record. We don’t have a parenthetical for “Witness looks annoyed” or “Witness is pounding his fists on the conference table.” So be sure to spell it out so the record reflects the behavior accurately.