Expert Testimony Workbook for Sexual Assault Advocates
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We hope this workbook is a valuable tool as you prepare to provide testimony in criminal cases. Although many sexual assault advocates have the opportunity to observe or learn about what actually happens inside courtrooms, still they are often anxious about being called to testify. This anxiety is understandable, since the courtroom is a venue foreign to most people outside the justice system and different from what is portrayed on TV.
The purpose of this workbook is to help prepare sexual assault advocates to provide effective general expert testimony in adolescent- and adult-victim criminal sexual conduct cases. This workbook is intended to answer advocates’ most frequently asked questions about what may be expected of them when preparing for and delivering testimony. This workbook is intended to assist any advocate who may be called to testify as an expert witness about victim behavior in a case that does not involve a victim with whom the advocate is working.
Limitations of this workbook
This workbook is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of testifying, rather, just a place to start. This workbook is intended to be in conjunction with live-action testimony roleplaying through the Sexual Violence Justice Institute’s Testimony Institutes. We encourage you to supplement your training and practice in other ways.
Portions of this workbook contain questions that advocates may be asked by either the prosecutor or defense attorney when testifying. Some questions contain sample answers in order to better illustrate what an answer may be. Please note that the sample answers should not be interpreted as “correct” answers. Based on your experience, the issue in dispute and many other factors, the sample example answer may or may not be appropriate.
Finally, this workbook does not provide education or sample questions about testifying in sex abuse cases involving children or vulnerable adults. This workbook also does not address testimony about direct services provided to a victim, which may be protected by advocate privilege.
Last modified: 7/5/2022