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Importance of Being an Impressive Witness

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 41 Issue: 2 Dated: (February 1993) Pages: 45-48
M Willingham
Date Published
4 pages
There are several areas of concern for police officers when testifying in a criminal case: the quality and completeness of original notes and reports, the pretrial conference and deposition, courthouse behavior, and personal appearance and demeanor.
When an officer write the synopsis of an investigation, he includes the details important or necessary to prove the case. Sometimes, what is considered unimportant at one stage of the investigation becomes crucial later on, and the officer's original notes can help to recreate the missing information. An officer's original notes can also help him answer questions from the defense that may not be relevant to the information he supplied in his case report. The officer who wishes to be an impressive witness must use the pretrial conference to plan his testimony strategy with the prosecutor and to give the prosecutor all pertinent details about the crime and the investigation. During the deposition, a witness establishes the foundation of subsequent courtroom testimony as well as his credibility throughout the trial. During the trial, a witness will gain the respect of all present with his professional conduct in the courtroom and on the witness stand.