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Olympian Oscar Pistorius' testimony at his murder trial led some people to believe he's taken acting lessons in preparation for court.
Pistorius' "Oscar-worthy" testimony was filled with tears and even vomiting. In fact, Jani Allan, a former columnist for the South African Sunday Times, claims that her friend, a famous South African actor, coached Pistorius for his court appearance, according to New York Daily News.
However, using acting methods to prepare a witness for trial isn't anything new.
Witnesses are integral parts of the trial process, because their testimony will provide evidence that helps the judge or jury make a decision. Although witnesses aren't allowed to lie on the stand, lawyers can help the witness prepare to give an effective testimony. Basically, witness preparation is properly done when the attorney helps the witness communicate the truth.
Communicating the truth can be done in several ways and lawyers want their witnesses to convey the facts in a manner that will persuade the jury. So before trial, lawyers may work with their witnesses in a "mock trial' setting and grill them with potential questions that the opposing party might ask.
Witnesses are encouraged to follow the attorney's advice on how to behave in the courtroom. For example, a witness who tells a joke at an inappropriate time may cost him or her any credibility with a jury and hurt the case.
There are acting classes out there which help attorneys and their witnesses prepare for trial. The alleged benefit of the classes is to prepare "problem" witnesses who may talk too much or are too traumatized to testify, according to Act of Communication consultants.
Since Pistorius is a celebrated public figure, he probably doesn't have many issues with stage fright or composing himself in public. However, when discussing a traumatic event like his girlfriend's death, some acting tips may have been needed to help him keep it together. So as long as Pistorius was telling the truth and wasn't performing to exaggerate or mislead the court, then taking whatever acting coaching he received in preparation for trial was likely legal.
Pistorius is on trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steencamp.
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