Bloodshot, Watery Eyes

September 20, 2011

A few days ago, I saw a man get 86’ed from a grocery store. He was behind me in line at the cashier trying to buy two bottles of wine at 9:00 pm. And, as the cashier pointed out, he smelled of booze, had a bright-red face (a characteristic more common among Asians), and had bloodshot, watery eyes.

My first reaction was, wow, I’ve never seen a drunk guy get refused service at a grocery store before.

My second thought was, so people do get bloodshot eyes from drinking. After years spent working in the legal system, I had often heard police officers use that phrase when testifying in DUI cases. But despite having spent plenty of time around people who were too drunk to drive, I had never actually seen a person with bloodshot, watery eyes.

Nevertheless, this curious fact remains: police testifying in court often use the phrase “bloodshot, watery eyes.” And “uneasy gait”. Have you ever used the phrase “uneasy gait” in casual conversation? Ever said the word gait outside of a crossword puzzle?

So what does this mean?

It means that police officers are trained how to testify in court, just like they’re trained how to write reports. So that even when they are being completely, 100% honest, they sound like they’re reading a script.

Effectively, I might add. If you’re a criminal defendant, the testimony of a halfway decent cop will hurt you significantly. If it’s in traffic court, you will lose.

But maybe, if you’re a prospective juror on a DUI case, you could request a sidebar and tell the judge that you know the story. Not that all cops are lying, but that if you hear a script coming from the witness stand, you might question its veracity more than other jurors.

But then maybe you should just keep it to yourself. Not everybody is a good enough actor to get off jury duty.

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