Missouri Legal Update

2020 Lesson 14: Testifying

Technical

Release Date: 

9/1/2020

This is an online technical skills lesson addressing how police officer witnesses can prepare to testify in a deposition or at a trial.


Section one addresses the importance of credibility while testifying. It examines the three basic components of credibility: honesty, likeability, and competence. 


Section two examines definitions every officer should know before testifying, including:  adverse party, burden of proof, chain of custody, circumstantial evidence, credibility, demonstrative evidence, deposition, direct evidence, discovery, exhibits, fact finder, hearsay, laying a foundation, leading question, mistrial, motion, motion in limine, motion to suppress, oath or affirmation, objection, real evidence, rule on witnesses, subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, the law, witness preparation, and witness impeachment.


Section three addresses preparing for depositions. It examines the importance of depositions, how an officer should prepare for depositions, what an officer should bring to depositions, how an officer should conduct him/herself at depositions, and what to expect during depositions.


Section four examines pretrial meetings between prosecuting attorneys and officers. It provides guidance on how to build trust between the officer and prosecutor, explains the difference between real and demonstrative evidence, and offers suggestions for practicing testifying.


Section five explains how to prepare for direct examination. It explains the questions the prosecutor will likely ask the officer to introduce him/her, establish his/her background, and explain his/her involvement in the case. It also explains the questions officers will likely be asked regarding real and demonstrative evidence.


Section six explains how to prepare for cross-examination. It examines the three main cross-examination structures and what an officer can do to prepare for them.


Section seven addresses common questions police officer witnesses may have about testifying in court, including: what to wear; how to conduct oneself; what to bring; where to look while testifying; whether the witness may ask questions; and what to do when an attorney objects.

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