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PROFESSIONAL WITNESSES

Regardless what prospective jurors may profess in their self-serving answers to questions during voir dire, most folks find it an easy credibility choice between the accused citizen and his or her badge-bearing accuser. It is usually important to try and put the police officer’s interest and bias on the table and in perspective. For example:

“Sure, [my client] has an interest in this case. For sure, he or she is undoubtedly the most interested party to these proceedings. His very liberty, his very life literally depends on its outcome.

But don’t kid yourself, these police officers have an interest in what happens here as well. Their very rank and grade depends upon how well they are perceived to do their job, and that includes not only their work on the streets but their performance in this courtroom, as well. Their testimony here before you is part of their job, they are paid for testifying, just like they are paid for their undercover police work in the field.

And if self-preservation is the first law of the jungle, then trust me, self-justification is the second. We all have a tendency to remember facts in a light most favorable to ourselves, most favorable to our position. In that respect, police officers really are just like anyone else with an interest in these proceedings.”

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