MAG40 Notes Part 7

Interaction with witnesses is important. Witnesses are given great weight, especially “impartial” witnesses. This is despite the fact that they might not have been paying any attention and they might be biased based on prior life experience. Anyone see “12 Angry Men”?

We must be able to articulate why our testimony may indeed be valid, why we have picked up on danger cues that a witness might miss.

If we’re not paying attention or are paying attention to something else, we are stricken by inattentional blindness. We will not notice something for which we are not looking. If we don’t know what we’ve seen, it will not register.

A ‘percipient witness’ is one who participated.

A trained fighter will see a telegraphed punch and know that the counterpunch was justified. A layman will not. Coach the attorney to ask whether a layman witnesses ¬†who didn’t see badguy go to gun might not have been qualified to notice. It’s like the blind men with the elephant.

There’s also a tendency to trust one’s own expertise, and to believe that “If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.” People only see one thing at once. Things happen despite our failure to notice them.

Confabulation is not a deliberate lie. The witness starts at condition white, with little awareness, and goes “oh my god what the fuck” while he pieces the situation together based on preconceived notions and a limited reading of the evidence. This limited reading will gel and become indistinguishable from true-to-life memory. The witness will honestly believe a series of events which may have nothing to do with what really happened.

Elizabeth Lofthus has a series of books on this sort of thing.

Do not attempt to lead a witness. It will backfire. Don’t put words in the witness’s mouth. The witness will think you are a lying asshole. Do not attempt to lead a witness.

Do fulfill your responsibility to witnesses. That responsibility is inherent to the decision to carry a gun. Witnesses may think you’re badguy. You still have responsibilities. Worry about the other good guys with guns. Worry about badguy’s associates. Worry about whether badguy is incapacitated in truth. Worry about whether he has other victims nearby. Carrying a gun and taking control of a situation compels you to care for the people around you.

A pointing finger and a command break apathy and demand action. doing so gets people involved and deputizes them as assistant leaders. “Call the police, call an ambulance.” The words ‘Police’ and ‘Ambulance’ survive language barriers well. “911” might not.

“Has he hurt anyone else? Look around and see.” This establishes badguy as such.