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Common Courtroom Phrases

Language heard in the courtroom and other legal settings contains many standardized expressions and set phrases, and their equivalents in the target language should be familiar to the court interpreter. After studying this list any credentialed court interpreter should be able to interpret or translate these expressions orally and in writing without any hesitation.

Commands

  • As jurors you are not to be swayed by sympathy.
  • Bail should be continued.
  • Call your next witness.
  • Can you tell the jury…?
  • Could you briefly describe …?
  • Could you describe the appearance of (a package, etc.)?
  • Counsel, lay a foundation.
  • Defendant will be remanded.
  • Don’t belabor the point counselor.
  • Don’t discuss the case.
  • Don’t volunteer explanations of your answers.
  • I direct the jury to disregard the statement that …
  • Jurors may be excused.
  • Keep your voice up.
  • Keep your own counsel, don’t talk about the case.
  • Let’s have the charge conference.
  • Make your application to Judge (…).
  • May the record reflect…?
  • May I have it?
  • Members of the jury, you are instructed to disregard…
  • Mr. X will reduce the decibel level.
  • Please proceed.
  • Please raise your right hand.
  • Please remain standing.
  • Please resume your seat.
  • Poll the jury.
  • Remember, you are under oath.
  • Rephrase the question.
  • See if you recognize it.
  • Speak into the microphone.
  • State your full name for the record.
  • The following prospective jurors are excused.
  • The witness will resume the stand.
  • Use your common sense.
  • Will the defendant please rise.
  • Will the prospective jurors please stand?
  • Will the people in the well of the courtroom please stand?
  • Will the record reflect that the witness has identified the defendant?
  • Will you call the first (next) case, Mr. (X)?
  • Would you raise your right hand?
  • Would you indicate…?
  • Would you describe …?
  • Would you point (someone) out?
  • Would you look at…?
  • Would you state for the record…?
  • Would you label that as (car, building, etc.)?
  • Would you mark that with an “x”?
  • You are excused.
  • You can proceed, Mr. (X).
  • You can resume your seat.
  • You can answer the question.
  • You have exhausted that subject, please move on.
  • You may answer the question.
  • You may be seated.
  • You may cross-examine, counsel.
  • You may inquire, Mr. X.
  • You may proceed.
  • You may step down.

Requests for information (requiring a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer)

  • Are you familiar with a device known as (a beeper, a cell phone, etc.)?
  • Are you familiar with this?
  • Can you tell from looking (whether it’s yours, etc.)?
  • Directing your attention to People’s exhibit (one, etc.) in evidence, can you tell the Court what is exhibit (one, etc.)?
  • Do you recall making this statement?
  • Do you recall this question?
  • Do you recognize that exhibit?
  • Do you swear that this is a true and accurate statement?
  • Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
  • Do you swear to well and truly interpret these proceedings, so help you God?
  • Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that the answers you are about to give, touching upon your qualifications to serve as jurors in this case now before the court, will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?  (Oath to prospective jurors)
  • Do you want the jury polled?
  • Do you wish to say anything before sentence is imposed?
  • Does (the picture, etc.) reasonably and accurately depict (the building, etc.)?
  • Does that refresh your recollection?
  • Did you discuss (cocaine, etc.?)
  • Did you go to trial or did you plead guilty?
  • Did you notice anything about (the envelope, etc.)?
  • Did you post bail for (X’s) release?
  • Did you advise (someone) of his rights?
  • Did there come a time when you (left the house, etc.)?
  • Have you filed a notice (of appearance)?
  • Have you had any involvement with (the criminal justice system, etc.)?
  • Have you had occasion to be involved with (an investigation, etc.)?
  • Have you ever been involved in (drugs, etc.)?
  • Have you formed an opinion as to (the cause of death, etc.)?
  • Have you reached a verdict?
  • Have you read the pre-sentence report?
  • Have you received a copy of the complaint?
  • Have you retained a lawyer or has one been appointed for you?
  • Have you reviewed the pre-sentence report with your client?
  • Is there anything that would prevent you from serving fairly and impartially?
  • Is that your testimony?
  • Is there any reason why sentence should not be imposed at this time?
  • Is time excluded, your Honor?
  • Is it fair to state (that you were living together, etc.)?
  • Isn’t it a fact that (you were his girlfriend, etc.)?
  • Isn’t that correct?
  • Isn’t that right?
  • Juror No. (X), is that your verdict?
  • What was your state of mind regarding the reliability of the informant?
  • Would that refresh your recollection?
  • Would it be fair to say (that you knew him/her, etc.) prior to that time?
  • Would you like the jury polled?
  • Would you like to be heard?
  • Would you like to say anything on your own behalf?
  • You and each of you, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will well and truly try this case before you, and a true verdict render, according to the evidence and the law so help you God?  (Oath to jurors on trial)
  • You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult your lawyer and insure his presence at your interrogation. If you want a lawyer and can’t afford one, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand each and every right that has been explained to you? Having all these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to me now?

Requests for information

  • Have you been threatened or coerced into pleading guilty?
  • How are you employed?
  • How much schooling have you had?
  • How do you plead?
  • How do you plead to the charge contained in count (X)?
  • How do you recognize that (exhibit, etc.)?
  • How can you tell (whether you’ve seen that exhibit before, etc.)?
  • What are your current duties?
  • What happened next?
  • What, if anything, did you do?
  • What, if anything, did you say?
  • What is People’s exhibit number (one, etc.) for identification?
  • What is the Government’s recommendation?
  • What is your current assignment?
  • What is your immigration status?
  • What were the lighting conditions (at that intersection, in the store, etc.)?
  • What were the weather conditions that (day, night, etc.)?
  • Where was (the car, etc.) in relation to the (building entrance, driveway, etc.)?

Requests for permission

  • At this time I would like to read (a letter, etc.).
  • Could I have a brief voir dire?
  • Could we have a sidebar?
  • I move to strike (the answer, etc.).
  • I would like to advise the court (that the defendant is not present, etc.).
  • I would ask that the court instruct the witness (to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, etc.).
  • I would ask most respectfully, your Honor, for a ruling.
  • If it pleases the court…
  • Let me call your attention to (that evening, etc.).
  • Let me direct your attention to (the picture in front of you, etc.).
  • May I approach the bench?
  • May I beg the court’s indulgence for a moment?
  • May I call my first witness?
  • May I have the witness approach (the blackboard, etc.)?
  • May I inquire?
  • May I publish these (photographs, etc.) to the jury?
  • May it please the court …?
  • May we approach?
  • May we get a ruling?
  • May we have a short recess?
  • May we see you at sidebar, your Honor?
  • Move to strike, there’s no question before the witness.
  • Your Honor, may the jury be instructed to disregard (the answer, etc.)?

Statements

  • At this time the defense rests.
  • At this time the government rests.
  • Criminal cause for pleading, U.S. vs. (…).
  • Each count carries a (X dollars) fine.
  • (Exhibit one, etc.) is received in evidence.
  • (Exhibit one, etc.) is marked as evidence.
  • I’ll enter a not guilty plea on your behalf.
  • I’ll show you what has already been received in evidence as People’s exhibit (one, etc.) handing you exhibit (one, etc.) for identification.
  • I am showing you (a cassette tape, etc.).
  • I call your attention to (the incident, etc.).
  • I deny your motion.
  • I don’t have any objection.
  • I find that the government has sustained its burden aided by the presumption.
  • I have a procedural matter.
  • I have no further questions.
  • I have to reserve an application.
  • I move for a directed verdict.
  • I now show you (a device, etc.).
  • I object on the grounds that (the answer was not responsive, etc.).
  • I object to that; no predicate has been laid.
  • I object to these self-serving statements. I offer government exhibit number (X) into evidence.
  • I remind you that you are still under oath.
  • I’ll rephrase the question.
  • I’ll show you what has been marked for identification as exhibit (one, etc.).
  • Do you recognize that?
  • I’m going to move to strike that answer as non-responsive.
  • I said, “Freeze!”
  • I take it that (you were together, etc.).
  • I’ll address any application to the district court.
  • I use the struck jury method of picking a jury.
  • I would submit that they’re conditions to ensure Mr. X’s return to Court.
  • It is received.
  • Lawyers may exercise challenges.
  • Marked as evidence.
  • Motion denied.
  • No objection.
  • Not that I recall.
  • Objection.
  • Objection to the form, your Honor.
  • Objection, your Honor, leading.
  • Overruled.
  • Received.
  • Received in evidence.
  • Received subject to connection.
  • Sustained.
  • Sustained; rephrase the question.
  • (Tell us, etc.) to the best of your recollection.
  • That was your sworn testimony.
  • The counsel is mischaracterizing the witness’ testimony.
  • The Court finds that there is a factual basis for the plea.
  • The Court is prepared to proceed to sentencing.
  • The defendant acted knowingly and intentionally.
  • The defendant admits to frequent travel to (the Dominican Republic, etc.).
  • The defendant has admitted his involvement in the instant charge.
  • The defendant has no history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The defendant has no prior convictions.
  • The defendant is guilty as charged in the incident.
  • The defendant represents to me that (he is a native of Puerto Rico, etc.).
  • The defendant says that he is sorry and remorseful.
  • The defendant waives a public reading of the indictment.
  • The defendant has not made his bail yet.
  • The defendant is being brought over by way or writ.
  • The defendant is innocent until proven guilty.
  • The defense has no objection as to foundation.
  • The defense rests.
  • The evidence is overwhelming.
  • The evidence will show…
  • The exhibit is accepted into evidence.
  • The government objects as to the relevance of this document.
  • The objection is overruled.
  • The objection is sustained.
  • The only thing I have redacted is (paragraph 3 and 4, etc.).
  • The outburst was non-responsive.
  • The witness’ answer was not responsive to the question.
  • We’ll take a break for lunch.
  • We’re awaiting the execution of the documents.
  • You are entitled to have a lawyer.
  • You have been placed on probation.
  • You testified earlier that (you were in the house, etc.).
  • You testified on direct that (the car was yours, etc.).
  • You are under oath.
 

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