How to Write an Effective Sworn Statement
In a sworn statement, someone provides information or takes part in an interview and guarantees under oath that the information provided is factual. In every trial sworn statements are given orally by witnesses during their testimony to the court.
Sometimes sworn statements are put in writing, and signed and attested to by the swearing witness.
Identify the person giving the statement and outline her credentials. Statements are sometimes given by experts regarding their knowledge of facts surrounding the statement. Sometimes a statement is given by an eyewitness who may not be an expert. Regardless, start the statement by giving the name and address of the expert or eyewitness. Follow by giving the expert's experience and training to render a reliable statement about the matter at hand. In detail, explain why an eyewitness or expert would have first-hand knowledge about the issue at hand. The goal is to establish why the one giving the statement has valuable and trustworthy information on the matter.
Spell out the time and place of the statement. Give the precise location of where the statement is being given. It is customary to provide the names of everyone present at the statement and include their capacity and who they represent. An example would be a statement by a witness in an out-of-court deposition, when attorneys for both sides are present. Many statements are given in front of someone licensed to transcribe a statement, such as a court reporter or notary.
Outline the facts that led up to the statement. Most statements are given by someone with unique knowledge about a certain event or issue. Clearly identify the topic associated with the statement. It may be a car wreck, or it may be an armed robbery where an eyewitness is giving a statement about what he observed. Regardless, it should be clear why the statement will add valuable information to explain an event, and the event itself should be clearly identified in time, place and detail.
Identify and mark all exhibits. Many times a sworn statement is accompanied by various documents or exhibits. These documents may be photographs or cancelled checks. It is important to lay a foundation that the one giving the statement is familiar with the documents, and that he has first-hand knowledge of the outside exhibits to be attached to the sworn statement. These exhibits should be carefully marked and labelled in the order that they are identified in the sworn statement. And all statements should have a clause where the one giving the statement swears under oath to the truth and veracity of the statement given.
- Mike Frayser, Tennessee Attorney
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