How does Petrocelli discredit Mr. Sawicki's testimony?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Sawicki is Steve Harmon’s film club adviser. He is brought forward as a character witness for Steve, explaining all the positive things that Steve has done through his film class and how he believes that Steve is an honest person. When he testifies, he says that Steve is sincere...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Mr. Sawicki is Steve Harmon’s film club adviser. He is brought forward as a character witness for Steve, explaining all the positive things that Steve has done through his film class and how he believes that Steve is an honest person. When he testifies, he says that Steve is sincere in his depiction of the neighborhood, and as a result, he is an honest person in general.

Petrocelli, the prosecuting attorney, uses two tactics to discredit Mr. Sawicki’s testimony. The first is showing that he didn’t know where Steve was on the day of the murder,

PETROCELLI

What was he doing on the afternoon of December 22nd? Did he show you a film of that day?

SAWICKI

No, he did not.

If Sawicki is just a character witness, then it makes his testimony less powerful. Petrocelli is seeking to discredit his power as a witness by showing he doesn’t actually know Steve that well, and that he doesn’t know what happened on the day of the murder because there was no film or other story involved.

The other tactic is to show that Sawicki liked Steve, which proves that he might be blinded by his feelings instead of an objective witness. The idea that he could be blinded might mean that he would testify for the boy without really knowing what he got up to in his neighborhood. Petrocelli says,

As a matter of fact, you like him quite a bit, don’t you?

The prosecutor is working to make it seem like his testimony is all a ruse to make Steve out to be a good kid. If Sawicki likes Steve, he might also be willing to lie for Steve. Not only that but while he thinks he knows Steve through his films, Petrocelli points out that he might not know Steve, except how he acts in the classroom, which could be different than how he behaves in his neighborhood.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Sawicki runs the film club at Steve Harmon's high school and testifies on Steve's behalf during the trial. When O'Brien questions Mr. Sawicki about Steve's character, Mr. Sawicki says that he thinks Steve is an outstanding young man. He also mentions that Steve is a compassionate, honest individual. When Petrocelli cross-examines Mr. Sawicki, she asks him if he is from Steve's neighborhood. Petrocelli then asks Mr. Sawicki if it is fair to say that he doesn't know what Steve does in his neighborhood after school. Mr. Sawicki replies by saying that it would not be fair to make that statement because Steve's films give an accurate depiction of his life outside of school. Petrocelli then asks Mr. Sawicki if he knows what Steve was doing on December 22nd, and Mr. Sawicki comments that Steve did not show him film from that day. When Petrocelli asks Mr. Sawicki if he feels that the ability to make films means that a person is honest, Mr. Sawicki says,

"It is my belief that to make an honest film, one has to be an honest person. I would say that. And I do believe in Steve's honesty" (Myers 241).

Mr. Sawicki then testifies that he is very fond of Steve. Petrocelli discredits Mr. Sawicki's testimony by implying that simply because Steve Harmon has a positive reputation in school it doesn't mean that he acts the same in his neighborhood. She attempts to persuade the jury into believing that Mr. Sawicki is partial towards Steve because he is a good student and that Steve's films do not reflect his true nature.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team