The Ethical Considerations in Preparing a Witness

Tuesday, February 25 2014


Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 1133 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10036

This program will explore a situation which every litigator encounters: preparing a witness to testify, either at trial or a deposition. We will explore the ethical boundaries of preparing (some might call it coaching) a witness in various contexts. Co-Chairs: Richard Dolan and Herb Eisenberg Host: Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.

Program Materials:


1. Niesig v. Team I, 76 N.Y.2d 363, 559 N.Y.S.2d 493 (1990).

2. In re Grievance Committee of the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (John Doe, Esquire v. The Federal Grievance Committee), 847 F.2d 57 (2d Cir. 1988).

3. Resolution Trust Company v. H.R. "Bum" Bright, 6 F.3d 336 (5th Cir. 1993).

4. Hall v. Clifton Precision, a Division of Litton Systems, Inc., 150 F.R.D. 525 (E.D. Pa. 1993).

Law Review Articles:

1. Sam Roberts, Should Prosecutors Be Required to Record Their Pretrial Interviews with Accomplices and Snitches?, 74 Fordham L. Rev. 257 (Oct. 2005)

2. Bennett L. Gershman, Witness Coaching by Prosecutors, 23 Cardozo L. Rev. 829 (Feb. 2002).

3. W. William Hodes, The Professional Duty to Horseshed Witnesses - Zealously, Within the Bounds of the Law, 30 Tex. Tech. L. Rev. 1343 (1999).

4. Fred C. Zacharias and Shaun Martin, Coaching Witnesses, 87 Ky. L. J. 1001 (1999).

5. Richard C. Wydick, The Ethics of Witness Coaching, 17 Cardozo L. Rev. 1 (Sept. 1995).

6. Joseph D. Piorkowski, Jr., Professional Conduct and the Preparation of Witnesses for Trial: Defining the Acceptable Limitations of "Coaching", 1 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 389 (Fall 1987).


1. Elkan Abramowitz and Barry A. Bohrer, White Collar Crime Column -- Handling Witnesses: The Boundaries of Proper Witness Preparation, N.Y.L.J., May 2, 2006 (col. 1).

2. Bruce A. Green, Compensating Witnesses: The Ethical Restriction and Three Limitations (2006).