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Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony for Forensic Analysts


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Photo of man and woman in professional business attire
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The manner in which analysts dress and carry themselves in the courtroom will speak volumes about them, their agency, professionalism, quality of work, and self-confidence. Appearing too casual or sloppily dressed can be seen as a weakness in these areas as well as infer a level of disrespect to the proceedings. Likewise, overdoing it can be received as arrogant and condescending. Either extreme is distracting and can easily be used to support or undermine the quality of an analyst's work. Appearance should also be understood to include gait, posture, and eye contact.

Courtrooms are traditional and conservative environments and not necessarily the best place to exhibit the most current fashion trends or styles. Witnesses should not wear excessive or gaudy jewelry or accessories. The miniskirt, extra wide (or narrow) tie, nose or lip piercings, and multiple ear piercings are better left at home.

Unless mandated by agency policy, use of any uniform as court attire is normally discouraged. A business suit is more appropriate. A suit lends itself to objectivity and is a convention normally associated with professionals. Defense counsel can easily project the witness in uniform as nothing more than an extension of the law enforcement agency and thus the results are predictable and not objective.

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