I was exchanging emails with a client. We were discussing potential witnesses for trial.

She wasn’t really coming up with anyone.

Then she wrote something really important: “No one really knows the full story.”

Here’s what I wrote in response:

 

I’m glad you said that not everyone knows the full story.  

 

That brings up an important point: Witnesses don’t need to know the full story.  They can just testify about what you were like before the wreck.  Or just what you were like after the wreck.  They don’t need to know what happened in the wreck.  They don’t need to know what made you different.  

 

We would like testimony from a number of different sources (in case the case goes to trial) so that the jury gets to hear the full story (even if none of the witnesses tell it from beginning to end).  

 

Think about a play or a film.  Unless there’s a narrator, none of the characters know the whole story.  But through their individual contributions the story gets told.  

 

We all (me included) have this starting point that includes the idea that witnesses have to know something about everything. They don’t. And I think that they’re probably more engaging when they don’t. That’s why plays, movies, etc. have lots of characters rather than relying on a two-hour monologue.

(Although monologues can be quite powerful….)