Stress Induced by Cross Examination

Stress Induced by Cross Examination

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This question does not just pertain, or originate in the law enforcement realm, but to all parties in the proceeding. The officer, defendant, jury, judge, and other stakeholders all experience stress during the proceeding. In most cases law enforcement is simply answering questions about something they have specific knowledge about. Being cross examined by attorneys whose job is to present facts in the most beneficial way for their client, provide a great deal of stress, if the persons takes the role out of context. In law enforcement we deal with lawyers daily, but in a courtroom setting, the officer must understand that they have a mission to accomplish, and it’s not personal.

Sometimes one may know what they are trying to communicate, but the words can be misinterpreted, and twisted around. Most officers are uncomfortable when their word, character, or expertise is called into question, yet this is exactly what happens when you are called to testify. Turf battles among agencies, court decisions curtailing discretion, perceived leniency of the courts, and release of offenders on bail, probation, or parole also lead to stress.

Due to the fragmented nature of police work, with only rare opportunities to follow cases to conclusion or obtain feedback in 2 the criminal justice system will exacerbate stress. Court appearances interfere with police officers’ work assignments, personal time, and even sleeping schedules. Also in time elapsed time between the event, and when an officer testifies; was the event documented properly by the officer, was all evidence handled in the correct manner, and of course the stress level is directly correlated to the severity of the event in question, or on the specific circumstances. Unfavorable court decisions, court delays and continuances, and the release of offenders on bail, probation, or parole also lead to stress. The inaccessibility, and perceived ineffectiveness of social service and rehabilitation agencies to which officers refer individuals act as further stressors. Law enforcement must also deal with the fact that the testimony will impact other people's lives, also creating stress. This is true in both civil and criminal proceedings.

Officers are expected to believe that what they do is important, but are often discouraged by the lack of praise, and recognition they receive from the law abiding citizens they protect. Further stress arises from perceived lack of support, and negative attitudes toward police from the larger society, and also stems from distorted and/or unfavorable news accounts of incidents involving police.

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In closing, I feel this was the hardest question in the class to answer, showing the need to shows ones thought in a manner to obtain a successful outcome. Although I personal never perceived testifying as a stressful event, due to the fact I took it’s as part of the job, and not personal, and I saw it as part of the process, after completed this assignment, the realization is that it did have an impact, by knowing what be an outcome with a conviction, and focusing on those more than in other cases.

Works Cited

Fernandez, German Dario, To Understand Understanding: How Intercultural Communication is Possible in Daily Life, Dec 2010.Vol.33, Iss.4; p.371
Pulled on July 31, 2011, from ProQuest Religion (Legacy Platform),

Selye, Dr. Hans, The Stress of Life, pulled on July 31, 2011, from
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