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  • Overnight shift -- testifying in court that day. HELP

    So, I seem to keep on getting burned by officers who work the overnight shift when it comes to getting them to testify in court. I'd really welcome some ideas or suggestions on this matter, since there's got to be a way to make this better

    Specifically, these guys are JUST FINE if I catch them in the late afternoon or early evening for a prep interview... they remember facts, are sharp, intelligent and pleasant. But when I subpoena them for court (which starts at 9 AM) and they are forced to sit and wait until the judge sees fit to call my case, they become increasingly unreliable, irritable and plain out-of-it. I have had several cases where the overnight shift officer has flat out FORGOTTEN facts he confidently volunteered the evening before.

    I can't control the judges and, if my officer is not actually in the courtroom when the case is called, the judge will immediately move on to another case. Any suggestions on how to handle sleepy disoriented officers in court?

  • #2
    I know you can't control the judges, but perhaps a conversation with them explaining how you are subpoenaing officers who are coming off long shifts, they may be willing to try a bit harder in calling those cases first. I've heard bad stories on here about judges, but I can honestly say that we are blessed with good ones in my city. I may not always agree with their decision, but I really think they are fair - and that's the number one thing I can ask for.

    As to the officers - perhaps requiring them to come in with a copy of their reports. This way, they are more then likely going to re-read them before testimony. With us, we are required to be in court at least an hour before the possible case being called, so if it's a 9AM case, we have to be there by 8. It doesn't always happen, but this way it allows us an opportunity to meet with the CA. Do you guys do the same?

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      We work 4-12's 6 to 6. If our night shift officers have to appear in court, admin tries to at least let them off by midnight to 2 am at the latest to get some rest before the appearance. Maybe a word to department admin's will help.

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      • #4
        There are a couple of courts that have some sleep rooms for officers. They help so the officers can get a power nap before they testify, and are easily reachable by the prosecutor. It gives them some place to get shuteye while waiting for the case to be called. We also seem to be a little more sharp on the stand. Oh, and have a fridge with some Monsters/Red Bull, and a fresh pot of coffee on.
        sigpic
        Originally posted by Smurfette
        Lord have mercy. You're about as slick as the business side of duct tape.
        Originally posted by DAL
        You are without doubt a void surrounded by a sphincter muscle.

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        • #5
          The other option is this. We have a court liason. So cases are called off in advance and this allows officers to plan days off etc for court. There is an office in the courts house with couches, recliners etc where officers can sit or sleep until they are called for court. The DA just calls up to the office and they send the officer down to whatever court room.

          It also gives the officers a place to get a cup of coffee and review case reports while waiting to testify. It makes a big difference having to stand in a hallway outside the courtroom and having a room away from the bandits and defense attorneys stalking the hallways.

          Dave beat me to it.
          The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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          • #6
            Replace the Fulton County court system. It's a joke.

            Judges have no problems letting lawyers get out of the courtroom as soon as possible, but not the officers. I've had to wait on a particular judge who just "didn't feel like leaving the bench yet" for a defense lawyer to show up. Court was at 9am, and he showed up around 11:30. For two hours, he was ten minutes away every time they called him.

            The threatening of officers doesn't help either. A lawyer doesn't show and it just get's rescheduled. The defendant will call and get it rescheduled and nobody informs the officer.

            But God forbid an officer not show up on time and Fulton County threatens officers and throws out speeches about how they're going to start throwing officers in jail for FTA.

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            • #7
              As a midnight officer I work 8 to 8. Im not sure how you can expect officers to be sharp after working all night and then sitting in the court room for a few hours before you get to them. My suggestion is you already know there is an issue so try to ask better questions when officers are on the stand if they are forgetting facts you want ask them or the day before whenyou have your pretrial meeting give them copies of the report they wrote and highlight the important facts that you want. Also I would ask your boss to set a meeting with the judges and let them know you would prefer to beable to call cases for officers that have been at work all night so they can leave. It may not help but at least you can show the officers you care and made an effort and they may try to make an effort to do better for you. Nothing ****es us midnight officers more then to feel like nobody gives a crap weve been up all night and most of the time have to come back in that night and prob have more court the next day.
              Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.
              -Ronald Reagan

              Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They're just braver five minutes longer.
              -Ronald Reagan

              Big Mak Attack AKA Big Mac Attack

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              • #8
                Sadly, Fordman is correct. The courts are absolutely ridiculous in Atlanta.

                The officers quit caring because nobody else cares... the DA(sorry nolo) and judges don't care so why should they...

                Kill someone and the court will give you $1500 bond... leave your dog in the car and bail will be a million $$.... that along with a horrible mayor, a politician for a chief, and a city that hates cops... then they complain why good officers leave...

                Comment


                • #9
                  The best thing you can do is request a meeting with the Chief and state your case. Suggest that officers be allowed at least a 6 hour break before his court appointment.

                  The part you don't know about is sometimes we work a 12 hour night, sit in court all day, and then go back to another 12 that night. How'd you like to have that officer show up to defend your life.

                  My one problem with your post is that the reason your concerned is because its affecting your cases. We go through this all the time. While you all are planning where your going to have lunch during recess we are fighting for sleep.

                  I once told my Chief during a firm discussion that if I ever make a critical mistake after being denied sleep by his policies, I will make sure that if it becomes public that all parties, including the press, understand how long it had been since the Chief allowed me to sleep.

                  He didn't like it but I left that place years ago.
                  Last edited by leesrt; 11-01-2009, 04:39 PM.
                  Due to the Juvenile bickering and annoying trolling committed by members of this forum I have started an igore list. If your name is listed below I can't see you.

                  CityCopDC, Fire Moose, Carbonfiberfoot, Damiansolomon

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    nolo,

                    You seem to always blame the Officers. Perhaps it's YOUR fault. Have your DA man up and talk to the PJ about getting officers in earlier and faster. If you still think it's "our" fault, then start working all night long and forego sleep for three days, then tell me how sharp you are.
                    Free Deke O'Mally!!!

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                    • #11
                      I used to work for a department in a non-sworn position and was subpoenaed for a case. Since it's rare for people in my position to receive a subpoena, I had to go to court, but the Officer and Sergeant were on stand-by. I would imagine this has the duel effect of reducing overtime costs to the department as well as reducing frustration levels of officers since they aren't having to go to court just to find out the defense attorney filed some motion and the case was postponed. In my case, the defendant was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed. I can imagine this would be a royal pain in the a** for an officer who had to wake up early and do nothing for two hours, especially if they are doing this on a regular basis. Perhaps you could set up a similar "on-call" system with the department you work with.

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                      • #12
                        Thank you for the input... I can definitely provide a highlighted copy of the report and some caffeine

                        Unfortunately, our judges don't care and my boss isn't interested. I'm not shirking my responsibility in the matter, but I can only do my best and it is frustrating when my best efforts get undercut by so stupid a thing as fatigue.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank god we don't have this problem in NJ. Once arrested, they are served with either a summons and released or a warrant and sent to the county jail until they see the judge. If a warrant, they are seen either via video court or at the next court date. A summons might be a few weeks before they are seen in court. We have a liason officer, so we rarely come to the municipal court.
                          Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nolo View Post
                            Thank you for the input... I can definitely provide a highlighted copy of the report and some caffeine

                            Unfortunately, our judges don't care and my boss isn't interested. I'm not shirking my responsibility in the matter, but I can only do my best and it is frustrating when my best efforts get undercut by so stupid a thing as fatigue.
                            Yes, how could we forget, this was about you.
                            I'll remember that next time I have to go to court and sit all day after I've worked all night. How self centered it is of me to be exhausted and not think of you.

                            In your words you called us "your officers". We are not yours, we are either the Chiefs or the Sheriffs. Your boss might not be interested but you could always talk with the Chief on your off time. Heaven forbid you have to come in when your suppose to be off.

                            What needs to happen is you need to work all day running papers, having meetings, and meeting clients during long lunches. Then after your day is done you get called in to work midnight court until your cases are cleared.

                            Then I can come in this forum and post how my crappy tired DA was ruining my cases because he/she was tired from working all day.

                            What is funny is if court were held at night on the Judges and attornies off duty time the entire session would last about two hours and would magically become the most efficient example of coordinated scheduling man has ever seen.
                            Due to the Juvenile bickering and annoying trolling committed by members of this forum I have started an igore list. If your name is listed below I can't see you.

                            CityCopDC, Fire Moose, Carbonfiberfoot, Damiansolomon

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by leesrt View Post
                              Yes, how could we forget, this was about you.
                              I'll remember that next time I have to go to court and sit all day after I've worked all night. How self centered it is of me to be exhausted and not think of you.

                              In your words you called us "your officers". We are not yours, we are either the Chiefs or the Sheriffs. Your boss might not be interested but you could always talk with the Chief on your off time. Heaven forbid you have to come in when your suppose to be off.

                              What needs to happen is you need to work all day running papers, having meetings, and meeting clients during long lunches. Then after your day is done you get called in to work midnight court until your cases are cleared.

                              Then I can come in this forum and post how my crappy tired DA was ruining my cases because he/she was tired from working all day.

                              What is funny is if court were held at night on the Judges and attornies off duty time the entire session would last about two hours and would magically become the most efficient example of coordinated scheduling man has ever seen.

                              Wow, take a chill pill and settle down. I read what he is asking as hi trying to find what he could do to help officers testify when they are dead tired. He never said anything derogatory towards tired officers. Attacking hi isn't going to solve anything - he's just a prosecutor, he doesn't control the speed of the court or the times of the cases. I'm sure that if he could, he would put every case that has a graveyard officer testifying first, so they can go home and sleep.
                              Last edited by crazynova; 11-01-2009, 11:54 PM.

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