In criminal law, one of the most important aspects of criminal defense is the witness list. The witnesses that testify at trial can be beneficial if the jury connects with their personality. To discuss this in greater detail, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is a firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in our state. When asked about the witness list, Grabel said, “If you don’t interview the witnesses, you set your client up for failure. Having a connection with the witnesses to the best of your ability can make the difference between a one-word verdict or a two-word verdict. Far too often, a lack of preparation in studying the witnesses can be fatal to your case. We always do our due diligence as the witness list is essential to success.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo had become known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County and provided commentary when he said, “I often create a large witness list and then shrink it down. Who you place on the witness list can become problematic because the prosecution can also place them on the witness stand. The witness list is about strategy, and that’s something that is not taught in law school.”
Nick Sanderson is a private investigator that works in both Washtenaw and Shiawassee County. When asked for commentary, Sanderson stated, “Many times Scott Grabel will have me interview witnesses as a trial strategy. My job is to provide insight to the criminal lawyer, and often a witness will feel more comfortable speaking with an investigator as opposed to an attorney. Making a witness feel comfortable is key to obtaining positive and accurate testimony. The information provided helps Scott determine if he wants to place that person on the witness list.”
The witness list is viewed as a procedural mechanism however, the substantive value that come from it can be as important as the evidence provided. A good witness list provides your client with the best possible outcome at trial, and sometimes the most valuable witness list is one that contains nobody on it.