Things Not to Say on The Witness Stand
A judge listens to the prosecutor and defense attorney
How your time on the witness stand starts
You have just gotten back from a two-week cruise to the Bahamas with your sexy girlfriend. What a time you two had—partying until all hours, eating fine foods, and just relaxing with no worries about jobs, bills, and other responsibilities of life.
Yes, you think to yourself. Everyone should live this good.
Then you proceed to “get back into the daily grind,” sorting your mail, unpacking your bags, and just absorbing all of the sweet memories you have of your sexy girlfriend, “Liz,” and last week on your cruise.
You pick up a copy of your newspaper and there it is. A front page photo of a man who looks so familiar. But his name escapes you for the moment as you finish unpacking and settling-in for a good Sunday evening nap with a possible late dinner with “Liz.” But not knowing the guy’s name still eats away at you.
Monday morning at 8:30, a knock comes on your door. “Awww, who could that be?” you murmur buttoning your shirt. “Maybe it’s Liz. She can’t get enough of me.”
But your hopes are soon dashed when you see someone you know. A courier, “Tim,” who works in your local courthouse. He delivers subpoena’s and other legal papers to people whom the court and its officers need to see.
“Morning, Mr. Peoples,” “Tim” says with a smile as he hands you “the” paper which is really a summons.’
“Uhhh, morning, ‘Tim,’ and I know what this is,” you reply reluctantly.
“Sorry, Mr. Peoples, but you have been served,” ‘Tim” says as he quickly walks away so you will not be tempted to chew him out for ruining your quiet Monday morning.
Upon reaching the courthouse on the date stamped on the summons, you meet with the district attorney, the prosecutor, and a stenographer. These people are about to make your somewhat life of ease, a bundle of nerves knotted so hard it cannot unravel. You are now perspiring in your armpits and the sweat is seeping through on your new shirt.
“Sir, are you alright? You need some water?” ‘June’ the pretty stenographer asks.
“No, thanks, I will be fine,” you quickly reply wiping sweat from your forehead with your handkerchief.
The prosecutor calls this meeting to order and says, “You are ‘Jacob Peoples,’ of north valley way, San Diego, California?”
“Yes, sir,” you reply.
“Good. This won’t take long,” the prosecutor replies as he takes an 8x10 photo to show you.
“This guy is, “Gordon Carson,” a master criminal whom authorities, including the F.B.I., have chased all through the United States and last week, we arrested him in a Hardee’s restaurant,” the prosecutor explains.
Then like a boulder hitting you in an avalanche, it hits you. This is the man on the front page, you think to yourself.
“Sir, what does this have to do with me?” you ask.
“Well, Mr. Peoples, we have information that you and this man ate dinner three weeks ago in a place called, “Minnie’s,” on Baxter Avenue, and we feel that you know things about him that will help us put him away for a long time,” the prosecutor says.
“We, uhhh, only ate dinner. That’s it,” you try to explain.
“Nevertheless, we want you to testify for the prosecution in his trial next week and then we can say goodbye to ‘Mr. Carson,” the prosecutor states. “I appreciate you taking time to come down and do this for us, and by the way, the court will reimburse you for your time away from your job.”
So with a handshake, you leave the courthouse and feel your insides start tying in knots and nausea beginning to start-up in your stomach. You are scared of this man you are about to testify against. And there is no way, but death, to get by this horrible situation, you think.
Then you remember a list of “Things Not to Say on The Witness Stand,” the assistant district attorney gave you to take home and study before the trial begins. You let out a sigh of relief.
But are you?
What if you go into a nervous meltdown and say some or all of the things on the list below while you are on the witness stand?
A defense attorney and his client
Inside the courtroom
List of Things Not to Say on The Witness Stand
- "Miss, I love your dress." (you say to the court reporter).
- "Judge, I need a sandwich. I am getting dizzy."
- "So you folks are the jury. I will save you some time. This bird is guilty!"
- "Anyone want to hear me imitate Al Jolson?"
- "Anyone care to see me dance like Sammy Davis, Jr.?"
- "Your suit looks so old." (said to the prosecuting attorney).
- "Is Gordon Carson, a fake name?"
- "Get this man some ravioli. He looks famished."
- "No thanks, Mr. Bailiff. No handcuffs for me--but our pretty court reporter might need them."
- "Anyone here from out of town?"
- "Take my wife. Please."
- "Speak up, Mr. prosecutor. I am about to doze off."
- "Carson, your defense attorney doesn't stand a chance."
- "I want to do my favorite song: 'Folsom Prison Blues.'"
- "Sure, your honor. I'll be quiet, if you will take that awful toupee off your head."
- "Are those real bullets in your gun, Mr. Bailiff?"
- "Judge, I am gonna need about $200.00 a day for my time away from my job."
Well, I got to hand it to you
you did it. You went on the witness stand and did a literal "one man show."
You angered the judge, both the prosecutor and defense attorneys, even the defendant, "Gordon Carson," the two bailiff's, the one sheriff's deputy and many of the defendant's family who were at the trial to support him.
But one good thing came from this courtroom-debacle: You scored a hot date with "Tonya," the single, 22-year-old court reporter."
Maybe she will wait for you. Those 50 days you are going to serve in jail for contempt of court will fly by.