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A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide to Testifying in Court.

A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide to Testifying in Court by James M. Vukelic, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, 2003.

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Without a doubt, this book will help the veteran, as well as the inexperienced, law enforcement officer testify in court more effectively. A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide to Testifying in Court provides significant information and advice to members of the law enforcement community to improve their persuasive manner of performance at trials while testifying as witnesses. The author identifies various methods used by attorneys on witnesses testifying and couples these with suggestions on how to deal with such tactics. He uses examples to emphasize key points that will greatly assist the patrol officer and other witnesses and bases the information presented on actual testifying situations in criminal and civil trials.

Six chapters make up the book, with the addition of two appendices. Appendix A deals with the cross-examination of a DUI arresting officer and field sobriety tests, whereas Appendix B covers the cross-examination of a psychiatrist in a murder case.

The first chapter, "What You Need to Understand Before Trial," is designed to help set the mental stage for officers preparing to testify by building their confidence. It focuses on the fact that officers must acknowledge the battle-ground of the court as a technique to reduce testifying anxiety and maintain their professional credibility.

Loaded with critical and necessary information, chapter 2 contains tips for testifying officers, including nonverbal persuasion, whether to wear jewelry, how to properly take the witness stand, and the indicators of witness deception, as seen by courtroom attorneys and jury members. This chapter covers the "dos and don'ts" that testifying officers must adhere to during the trial proceedings. All of the information is included to enhance and maintain an officer's credibility.

A chapter on surviving both direct and cross-examinations contains further important information to help testifying officers and others as to what they must expect during the two types of examinations in terms of the style of the interrogation and their responses to such questions. The author addresses how officers and other witnesses are discredited; how the identification of prejudice or bias on the part of a witness surfaces; and what constitutes poor memory situations by a witness. Information is presented as to a lack of perception, inconsistent statements, and attacks on the character of a witness that gives the officer an idea of what to be prepared to encounter. All of the information is supported with sound, tried tips.

In the chapter on expert testimony, the author addresses the officer as an expert witness and provides advice and examples on how and when an officer may give opinion testimony. The author also presents a comprehensive chapter on deposing witnesses and how depositions are used at trials. Overall, two strong points of the book emerge: 1) a total of 37 excellent tips with examples spread throughout the book involving officers in court and 2) two appendices on cross-examinations that provide insight to officers and other witnesses as to what they may expect at a trial.

A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide to Testifying in Court applies to all personnel in the criminal justice system. It is of value to law enforcement academies and in-service training programs, as well as officers studying for the civil service test and those individuals who write the examination. It is an essential book for prosecutors and defense attorneys to read and should be considered as part of the required reading list at higher academic institutions.

Reviewed by Major Larry R. Moore (Ret.), CPP Certified Emergency Manager International Association of Emergency Managers Knoxville, Tennessee
COPYRIGHT 2004 Federal Bureau of Investigation
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Moore, Larry R.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:602
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