October 25, 2022

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How to Prepare for a Subpoena

Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for juvenile and adult probation officers, and guess what? It’s about testifying as a result of subpoena.

Doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your thousandth time – testifying under subpoena is no fun.

Testifying can be a nerve-wracking experience. Doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your thousandth time – testifying under subpoena is no fun. But it’s a necessary part of your job. Here are some hints on how to improve your courtroom performance.

First, and I can’t stress this enough, appear professional. Dress appropriately for the courtroom, folks. Not too casual, and not too fancy. You want to look like the professional you are, with nothing to distract from your sworn testimony.

Refresh your memory. Before the hearing, review any reports or records you will be questioned about. If you sound like you don’t know or you don’t remember, it may make people question your testimony.

Listen carefully to the question before answering. And this is critical: Think before you speak! Answer questions directly without volunteering additional information. Answer all questions verbally, not by nodding or shaking your head.

Slow down, please slow down, especially if you’re nervous. Speak clearly and loud enough so everyone can hear you. Do not chew gum, mints, or candy while on the stand.

Speak in your own words. Don’t try to memorize what you will say. That makes your testimony sound rehearsed and unconvincing. Be honest in your answers. Do not exaggerate or embellish. If you can’t answer a question with “yes” or “no,” it’s OK to explain your answer. If you don’t remember something, say “I don’t recall.”

Stop speaking if the judge interrupts you. If an attorney objects to your testimony, wait for the judge to tell you to continue before proceeding. And never, never, never lose your temper with the attorney who is questioning you.

Lastly, if you make a mistake, correct any mistakes in your testimony immediately. If your answer was not clear, clarify it at once. This is better than opposing counsel bringing up your mistake to the court or challenging your veracity or your character.  Courtroom testimony is tough, I know you can do it.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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