PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW TO OBTAIN A HANDWRITTEN STATEMENT
When it is necessary to obtain a handwritten statement from a witness, follow generally accepted interviewing techniques by conducting a “warm up” prior to obtaining the handwritten statement.
Use the attached statement form and always write in ink. To expedite the writing of the statement, you may obtain the permission of the witness and hand write it for that purpose. Be sure to fill in all of the categories, and also follow the below-listed procedures to ensure that the statement is admissible at trial if needed.
1. If the interviewer is writing the statement for the witness, after it has been completed, have the witness place his or her initials and the date to the immediate left of the first word of the first sentence of the first and all other pages of the statement. Have the witness also place his or her initials and the date to the immediate right of the last word on the last line of each page.
2. The first sentence should indicate that the interviewer is writing the statement for the witness. Make sure that your handwriting or printing is legible and state the following as an introduction:
“At my request (name of interviewer) is hand writing this statement regarding my recollections of the (date and description of the incident about which this statement relates).”
3. Be sure and hand write one sentence right after the other. There should be no gaps in the statement (no paragraphs).
4. On the top line of succeeding pages through to the last line of the last page, ensure that there are no gaps.
5. If the interviewer is hand writing the report for the witness, have the witness write after the last word of the interview’s last sentence a statement in his or her own handwriting which acknowledges the foregoing statement. An example is as follows:
“From this point on this statement is in my own handwriting. I work at (name of business). I have worked there for (number) years. This statement is voluntary on my part, and it is true and accurate to the best of my recollection.”
The last portion of the statement in the witness’ own handwriting can relate to anything personally about them as long as it also indicates that the statement is “voluntary, accurate, and to the best of his or her recollection.”
6. If there are any corrections or modifications, make sure that the witness places his or her initials and the date next to the cross-out or correction.
7. Written statements should always be in first person – (I).
8. If the witness chooses to hand write his or her own statement, help them by suggesting the essentials that the statement should contain so that it flows as chronologically and as logically as possible.
Encourage them to begin the statement on the first line, and they should leave no gaps in-between sentences. Have them start the statement by identifying the incident by date and time and/or name of the parties involved.
Have them initial at the beginning and at the end just as if the interviewer had any cross-outs or corrections.
9. Be sure to have the witness sign and date (whether in his or her own handwriting or the handwriting of the interviewer) immediately after the last sentence on the last page.