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Testifying in the Theater of the Courtroom

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 73 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2004 Pages: 26-30
Joe Navarro M.A.
John E. Ott
Date Published
September 2004
5 pages
This article examines the issue of law enforcement officers testifying in the courtroom and those factors identified by jurors that influence their perceptions of an officer’s testimony as truthful and competent and the impact on the outcome of the case.
In the last 20 years, many trial consultants have found the performance of the actors, such as law enforcement officers, lawyers, and witnesses in the courtroom to impact the outcome of cases. How people testify and how others perceive them are as important as the testimony. Jury surveys have shown how often jurors are disappointed by the performance of the actors during the trial, thereby having serious consequences. Those who present before a jury have a duty to communicate effectively, honestly, and with respectful deference. What an officer wears and how they speak, behave, and present in the courtroom often determine the effectiveness of their testimony. They are testifying in the theater where performance matters. This article examines those factors of an officer’s testimony that are identified as influencing the perception of the jury and include: dress and attire and nonverbal and verbal communication. Officers must provide the jury, with the information it needs to make effective decisions in the theater of the courtroom.