Courtroom Testimony and Preparation

Courtroom Testimony and Preparation

Work law enforcement or ME/C  death investigations long enough and you will end up in court. Whether you are testifying in a criminal case or a civil proceeding, there are things you can do to prepare for testimony.  Done correctly, you will leave the stand with your integrity and professional image intact.  Done wrong, it can have a devastating and  everlasting consequence on your career.


You should review your case several times  before the trail and meet with the prosecutor and review your testimony. You need to mentally rehearse the case, going over the facts out loud. If need be, visit a courtroom and observe other trials in progress. If you have never testified before this can be helpful in relieving some anxiety of the  unknown.

Long Before Court 

Your summary report should be written  in chronological order – of your investigation or involvement, in easy to understand language and not written in short code or police jargon. Be sure  any words or phrases you use in your report you can explain later. Never use words you have to look up the meaning to while writing your report.  It is doubtful you will remember the meaning on court day and will  appear untrained or deceitful. Remember your “opinion” can never be reflected in your final summary report

On the Stand 

Have the complete report with you at court; Autopsy –  Toxicology – anything else related. Have well-organized, standardized, complete, and readable style for reports.

Your demeanor is critical during testimony.  You should have a general attitude of confidence  but not cockiness. You should remain composed, investigators convey an air of authority and respect with the general public just by virtue of your title and job. You do not need to add to that image further by cockiness.

Body Language 


  • You should sit up straight.
  • You need to sit close enough to the microphone so you do not need to lean ever every time you speak.
  • Your material should be organized in front of you.
  • You should look at the attorney questioning you and then switch eye contact to the jury when answering.
  • You should be open, friendly and speak clearly and slowly.

Answering questions:

  • Listen carefully to each question and give a responsive answer.
  • If you do not understand, ask the attorney to repeat the question.
  • Keep sentences short and to the point.
  • If you do not know the answer, you should simply state “I don’t know.”


  • You should not try to bluff your way through a difficult question.
  • You should not become defensive or dishonest.
  • Do not preface your answers with such phrases as “I believe”, “I estimate”,  or “to the best of my knowledge”.  This can leave doubt in the minds of the jury or judge.
  • You should not answer beyond the question.

Final Thought

Most citizens, including jurors, want to believe that the people they place their trust in, such as public safety employees, have their best interest in mind.  Many people grant you  the benefit of a doubt if given a credible reason to do so. But if a witness crosses a juror through dishonesty or flagrant disrespect, jurors will react negatively.


coroner,police training, darren dake,sheriff,deputy,coroner association,murder scenes,auto fatalities,csi,first responders,autoerotic fatalities,become a coroner,forensic science crime scene investigation,forensic science crime,scene investigator,forensic training,forensics training,how to be a crime scene investigator,how to become a death investigator,how to become a medical examiner,how to become a medical examiner investigator,medical examiner investigator training,medical investigator training,medicolegal death,medicolegal death investigator training,murder scenes,pictures of murder scenes,murder,real murder crime scenes,traffic deaths,traffic fatalities,what does it take to be a coroner,what does it take to be a criminal investigator,firefighter,fire training,firefighter training,autoerotic fatalities,become a coroner,coroner information,crime scene clean up training,crime scene cleaning training,crime scene cleanup training,crime scene investigation,crime scene investigation classes,crime scene investigator courses,crime scene investigator school,crime scene jobs,crime scene photography,crime scene photography training,crime scene technician,crime scene technician training,crime scene training,criminal investigation,criminal investigator,criminal justice,criminal justice forensic science,criminal justice forensics,criminal scene investigation,death crime scenes,death investigation training,death investigator training,death investigators,forensic death investigator,forensic investigator,forensic photography, crime scene clean up,crime scene bio-hazard, using plants in criminal investigation,forensic botany,dr.jane bock,death investigator magazine,dr judy melinek,badge of life,american college of forensic examiners,acfei,american board of medicolegal death investigators,abmdi,matthew lunn,underwater crime scene,mike berry,online learning,lopa,cultural diversity,anger de-escalation
About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *