Why Lawyers Cannot Testify

Lawyers’ inability to testify isn’t by accident. There is an inherent presumption that lawyers will lie if given the chance.
If a lawyer does try to introduce facts in court, the judge will cut them off and say, “where are you getting this information?” If the lawyer doesn’t have evidence to support what they’re saying, everything they’ve said is stricken from the record.
Why? Because I am paid to tell the story that benefits my client. It’s inherent in the job. If I was allowed to testify personally as to what was happening, I would have an ethical responsibility to skew the facts in my client’s favor. And as a result, there isn’t a jury or judge in the world who would believe a single word any lawyer said.
Lawyers are prohibited from asserting facts in court at all. Even in cross-examination, which is where the lawyer’s conduct is closest to testimony, they have to ask the witness to confirm or deny everything the lawyer says. Then it’s not technically the lawyer saying it – it’s the witness adopting, or refusing to adopt, the lawyer’s version of events. If the lawyer continues to try to put words in a witness’s mouth that the witness denies, it will draw objections, censure, or even a mistrial.
Sure, the words lawyers use to characterize the facts may be unfair or misleading, but that’s why evidence is required. And, for that matter, why the opposing side has a lawyer of its own. After all, one of the easiest ways to win a case is to prove that the other side is lying, so why would any lawyer going against me give me that advantage?
With the exception of very specific situations, such as when a lawyer has to testify that he sent a certain email or received a certain document, there is simply no element of truth or falsity to what a lawyer says at all. The lawyer just describes what everyone else is saying. And then has to prove it.

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