The he said, she said narrative is one of the most common and damaging ways to present an ambiguous situation in your case. It’s also often used by witnesses who are not sure how to respond. Using this type of narrative can lead a judge or jury to believe there is more evidence supporting one side than another. However, they won’t be able to determine which side has more merit until you take the time to explain each and every detail of what happened in as much detail as possible—even things that may seem insignificant. To demonstrate this point, we’ll use an example from a previous article:
A police officer responded to an assault call at a local bar where several patrons were being asked to leave. The officer found several intoxicated people sitting outside of the bar smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol from paper cups. He made several attempts to ask people inside if they could please keep the noise down since it was getting late. However, several individuals inside the bar did not hear him clearly and continued yelling at him or laughing loudly whenever he asked them to be quiet. In response, the officer asked them all once again if they could please keep their voices down or leave immediately before calling in back up or requesting additional officers for assistance.
The He Said, She Said Narrative
The he said, she said narrative comes into play here. The officer felt that the people inside of the bar did not hear him clearly and continued yelling at him or laughing loudly whenever he asked them to be quiet. In response, the officer asked them all once again if they could please keep their voices down or leave immediately before calling in back up or requesting additional officers for assistance. This is an example of how a he said, she said narrative can create confusion in your case when it should have been avoided.
The individual most likely to win this type of situation is going to be the person who has more supporting evidence than their opponent.
The witness who was yelled at is going to need more details about what happened and why they were being yelled at so they can provide more evidence to support their side of the story.
Even though the police officer felt like his voice wasn’t heard when he was asking individuals inside the bar to be quiet, there are no witnesses to back up his side of the story without providing any extra supporting evidence for their testimony.
Avoid the He Said, She Said Narrative
The officer waited for several more minutes and tried to get a response from anyone inside the bar. When he still didn’t hear anything, he decided to call in back up and leave. However, on his way out of the bar, he was assaulted by several patrons who were angry about the noise complaints.
A lot of people would make an argument that it is only fair for the injured party to give their side of the story due to not being able to hear what they had said. This is not a fair argument because it completely disregards what happened before as well as after the point of conflict with the officer when he asked them to stop making noise or leave. The police officer did everything within his power to ask them nicely and diffuse the situation peacefully without any further damage being done but instead was met with hostility towards him and could have potentially been assaulted if he hadn’t left in time.
Explain Every Detail of What Happened
At this point, the officer got no compliance from anyone inside the bar. Several people continued to shout and laugh loudly at him. He said he became frustrated and wanted them all to leave. At this point, the situation escalated into an altercation where a patron threw a glass of alcohol at his face. When the officer attempted to arrest the individual who threw the drink, he resisted and everyone began to yell and scream for help. The officer struggled with one of them before placing him into handcuffs.
When you write your court narrative or present your case in court, use as many details as possible that explain what happened from your perspective. It’s also helpful to mention that you are not obligated to give any more information than what is asked of you if it would be incriminating or could lead you into trouble with law enforcement or other agencies involved in your case. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid getting tripped up by “he said, she said” narratives in court.
Use a Bottom-Up Narrative
In this case, the officer was wrong to assume that the individuals inside were part of the problem. He suggested it was only a few people causing trouble and not the whole bar. However, in reality, many people inside were also drunk and several witnesses confirmed that they didn’t hear her request for quiet at all.
But when she followed up with an individual who did not seem like he could offer much help, she learned that the man had been hearing impaired from birth. This meant he couldn’t understand what was going on in the bar, so he didn’t know if any of his friends or family members were being asked to leave or not.
This person’s story provided a new perspective on what happened during that night at the bar—one that may have helped lead to better understanding of events leading up to what happened and prove there was more than just a few intoxicated people causing trouble.
Summarize the Conclusion in Your Concluding Sentence
The officer did not use a he said, she said narrative in court. Instead, he described everything that happened from beginning to end. He made it clear that he was just trying to maintain a peaceful environment for everyone involved and that any yelling or laughing at him was not warranted. This helped the jury understand the true nature of the situation and had them view the defendant in a more favorable light.
Avoid the Conclusion Narrative
The officer was asked by the bar manager if he could file a report on the individuals who were outside the bar. He said that he did not want to file a report but wanted to take them in for questioning and told them he would return with his partners. The officer then asked him how many people were inside of the bar and he said there were about 20 people inside.
Bottom-Up Versus Conclusion Narrory
This narrative falls into the bottom-up narrative because the officer is telling you what happened, not what he would have done if things went differently. A better way to present this situation is with a conclusion narrative. This type of narrative is when the officer explains what would have happened if things went the other way and the patron was able to leave without any problems.
If that patron was able to leave without any problems,
I would not have called in back up or asked for additional officers.
The conclusion narrates how things could have been different had this person left peacefully and doesn’t mention anything about asking him to keep his voice down or requesting assistance. The result is that you’ll be able to avoid using “he said, she said” as your primary evidence in court.
Summarize the Findings in Your Concluding Sentence
In this scenario, the he said, she said narrative is not a good representation of what happened and why it was problematic. The officer made several attempts to ask people inside the bar if they could please keep the noise down as they were being asked to leave. However, many individuals continued yelling at him or laughing loudly whenever he asked them to be quiet. This led to further confusion on the part of both the officers and the public.
In conclusion, if you use a he said, she said narrative in your case, you run the risk of having other witnesses question your credibility or lacking credibility in front of a judge or jury. You can avoid this by describing each aspect of what happened in detail before explaining any one specific incident as it pertains specifically to your case.
The He Said, She Said narrative is a common way of presenting a case in court. It’s important to avoid this narrative because it makes it difficult to determine who is telling the truth and can lead to jury confusion. It’s best to present the facts in a bottom-up narrative, use the conclusion to help the jury understand your overall point, and summarize the findings in your concluding sentence.
He said: “I was at the party.” She said: “I was at the party with Jake.”
He said: “I wasn’t there.” She said: “Yeah, I was at the party.”
He said: “I was at home sleeping.” She said: “Yeah, I was at the party.”
He said: “I was at work.” She said: “Yeah, I was at the party. But I left to go home like five minutes ago.”
He said: “I was asleep.” She said: “Anyway, I was at the party.”