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A recurring theme in just about every case that I have tried is my client’s fear of testifying at trial. He worries that a jury won’t believe him because he is black/white/overweight/short. She does not believe that she can effectively communicate to a group of people or that she will sound appropriate. They all share a fear of the unknown. For most of my clients, it is the first (and, hopefully for them, last) time to testify in front of a jury. When my client has been the victim of intentional conduct, the prospect of testifying or even pursuing a claim against the wrongdoer can be particularly traumatic. The lawyers in our firm understand this and go to great lengths to prepare our clients for trial. Invariably, they find that it is not nearly as bad an experience as they earlier thought. For many, being able to tell their story is strengthening and allows them closure.

Recently, Pete Burns and I (as well as lawyers in another firm) tried a case representing an adult woman suing her biological father. He had sexually molested her since she was a young girl. She had wanted to file suit many times before, but family pressures and self doubt had kept this a dark secret – just as the father wanted it. She finally conquered that fear and went forward. A sexual abuse victim is in a particularly tough position because of the very personal nature of the wrongful conduct and the damage it causes. She handled it well and, I believe, was strengthened by the experience. I am not revealing any privileged secrets, this is just my observation. I have a lot of admiration and respect for what she did.

If you have been hurt by the conduct of another, you may also be hesitant to pursue a claim. If so, consider what you read here. When you reflect, you may still decide that pursuing a claim is not the right thing for you to do. You may also find, like my client above, that pursuing your claim may be part of the healing process. Just make sure that the answer you decide on is the right one for you.

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