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In court, do people still swear on the bible when testifiying?

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vogonity Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:40 AM
Original message
In court, do people still swear on the bible when testifiying?
Do courts still do the "...whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god" and make people put their hand on a bible when testifying? Or was the hand on the bible thing something that was mostly done on TV and not in real life?
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
1. Pull out a quarter. See God on it? If it's on our money, it's
definitely in our courts.
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Book Lover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:44 AM
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2. There was no bible in sight when I was sworn in as a witness
in a criminal trial here in San Mateo county, CA, about a month ago. FWIW.
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flamin lib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:45 AM
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3. Yes & no.
Last time I was asked to swear on the bible I said I would but that it meant nothing to me as I'm atheist. The Judge asked me of I were a good and moral person and if I would tell the truth. I answered in the affirmative and that was the end of it.
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eyesroll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:49 AM
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4. The one time I've given sworn testimony, there was no bible.
(It was a quick divorce hearing.)

Regardless, if there's one offered, you're not required to do so. You can affirm you're telling the truth without the bible.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:50 AM
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5. It's the judge's discretion (at least in DC and VA)
There was a case last year about a judge that wouldn't let a Muslim woman swear on the Qur'an rather than the bible, but AFAIR there are several judges that do allow it (and I even remember an atheist asking to swear on the Constitution).

For that matter, constiutionally the judge cannot even require someone to "swear" as such, someone with an objection to swearing (Quakers, Mennonites, Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as someone who considers swearing and oaths as superstition) can choose to affirm -- that's part of the "no religious test" clause. I think two Presidents chose to "solemnly affirm" to defend the Constitution of the USA, and any witness in a trial can sit on affirmation that he or she is telling the truth.

That decision in the case I linked above (again this is from memory; can't find the result of the case), was that the judge cannot force a person to use the bible to swear or affirm (no religious test), but also the judge cannot be required to provide or accept other documents or objects for the swearing or affirmation.

When I was a witness in a trial 3 years ago in Arlington VA, there was no bible and I simply raised my hand and affirmed that I would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (the bailiff had said, "So help you God", but I ommitted that phrase and nobody seemed to notice or care).
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MindPilot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:51 AM
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6. no bible, but there was a "...so help you god".
I was in court (as an observer) at a sentencing hearing 3 weeks ago and the defendants were sworn in with the standard "Do you swear to tell the truth...so help you god?"
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murielm99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:53 AM
Response to Original message
7. Some people have never done that.
For example, Church of the Brethren people do not swear on anything. When asked to swear, in court or anywhere else, they say, "I affirm."
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Redbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
8. Every court I have been to in Texas, the answer is no,
You just have to swear that your testimony will be true.
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rsdsharp Donating Member (516 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 12:41 PM
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9. In 19 years of practicing law in Iowa
I have never seen a Bible used in a courtroom (or anywhere else) to administer the oath. In all that time I have only heard "so help you God" used once. The oath, as it is commonly administered in Iowa is "Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 12:58 PM
Response to Original message
10. Most places, no
Haven't done so for some years, I believe. This started being the case when so many people of different faiths and atheists became a greater part of the population.
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cinemaactivist Donating Member (15 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-20-06 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
11. interesting
that's a good question
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HarukaTheTrophyWife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 04:55 AM
Response to Original message
12. I've been in municipal and federal court.
Never did I have to swear on a Bible. I just had to hold up my right hand and swear to tell the truth.
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