Cops Talk Funny

Quit "exiting the patrol vehicle" and just get out of the damned car.


When you talk like that, you sound like somebody who's full of himself or who's trying to hide the truth in a mountain of syllables - both are stereotypes we do NOT need to be reinforcing with jurors. You don't sound like a regular person the jury can relate to and identify with. So, when the defense attorney starts beating up on you the jury just sees two courtroom professionals - neither of which they can identify with (which means they can't empathize with) - going at each other in some highfalutin' word game that has little to do with them - or justice.

When asked what behaviors increase a witness' credibility in court, jurors responded that "uses understandable language" is one of the most important. (Trial Behavior Consulting, Inc., THE RECORDER, October 1997.) That's why we call it "straight talk." This is the critical reason to quit talking funny in court - it hurts your credibility. Credibility is the degree to which the jury believes you - and that's the one confrontation you must win in court.

This is important enough that I'm going to give you a homework assignment. Make up some flash cards. On one side, write a phrase or sentence the way you now talk on the stand. On the other side, write the same phrase in plain English. Have one of your kids work with you with your flash cards. It'll be a nice Hallmark family moment. I'll help you get started.

  • He indicated... He said
  • I have been employed by... I worked for
  • I exited the patrol vehicle... I got out of the car
  • I observed... I saw
  • I ascertained the location of the residence... I found the house
  • I proceeded to the vicinity of... I went to
  • I approached the entrance... I went to the door
  • The subject approached me... She came up to me
  • I apprehended the perpetrator... I arrested the man
  • I obtained an item that purported to be an envelope from the individual... I got the envelope from her
  • I observed the subject fleeing on foot from the location... I saw him running away

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