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NCJ Number
J Leventhal
Date Published
0 pages
This video instructs police officers in how to be effective witnesses in criminal and civil cases.
The instruction is provided through the simulated testimony of a police officer who was at the scene of a traffic accident in which an alleged drunk driver is charged with running a stop sign and causing the death and injuries to persons in another car. The police officer presents testimony in a preliminary hearing for the criminal case and in a civil case brought against the driver of the car that ran the stop sign. The testimony of the officer in response to direct questioning and cross-examination is critiqued by the attorneys who acted as the prosecutor and defense counsel. Some of the lessons taught are the importance of body language that portrays confidence, attentiveness, and interest in the testimony. This precludes slouching in the witness chair, speaking in a low voice, and using vague and general responses. The officer witness should use words and concepts that are precise and clear. Direct eye contact should be made periodically with the judge and jury. The officer should be thoroughly prepared to communicate and explain all facts in the case with which the officer is directly familiar. Conclusions and guesses should be avoided. In the case of the civil litigation, the officer testifies on matters that occurred a significant length of time before the court proceeding. This requires that the officer review the report that the officer prepared in the case as well as the transcript of the officer's testimony given in any previous criminal proceeding.