Witness Handling

Witness handling is the skill of managing the witnesses you are calling to support your case. The term applies to the interactions with witnesses during the pre-trial stage, in the courtroom, and following their testimony.


Generally, witnesses can be classed into (one or more of) the following categories:

  • Fact witnesses;

  • Vulnerable witnesses, including children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health concerns, witnesses who also are a victim of crimes that form part of the case;

  • Accomplices, also are known in international criminal law as ‘insider’ witnesses;

  • Experts;

  • Overview witnesses; and

  • Investigators/Police Officers.

Dealing with each category of witnesses requires specific training and expertise.


In the courtroom, witnesses also adopt different demeanors, depending on their motivations, characters, and/or emotions. For example, witnesses may be either (or a combination of): honest, forgetful, lying, evasive, argumentative, and/or hostile.

Witness handling encompasses the skill of managing these categories of witness in the courtroom.