THE ADVOCATE 825
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
I will give you a fair opportunity to say what you want to say.
Your turn will happen soon. I promise.
Do you understand what I am saying, Mr. Jones?
When these phrases are spoken in a calm, steady and soothing voice by the
panel chair, the agitated person will usually return to a baseline state, generally
calmer and more cooperative, as they are looking forward to “their turn”,
with the picture in their mind of “their turn”. The promise of “soon it will be
your turn” has been “seeded” into their brain as a visual picture. The witness
will usually answer “yes” to the final question, indicating that they understand
they must wait their turn to speak. It may be a somewhat grudging
acquiescence on their part, but that’s “good enough”! If the person is calmer
and has regained control to remain quiet, then the other party can proceed.
This technique also has the benefit of “seeding” the suggestion in the
speaking witness, or in the person posing questions to that witness, to keep
their testimony or questions as concise and focused as possible. Obviously,
their testimony or questions are causing pain to the other person and have
triggered them to lose control.3 A panel chair should know, therefore, how to
diplomatically “seed” a suggestion that it is time to move on to relevant testimony
or to “wrap up” repetitive, unhelpful interrogatories. This is a type of
“understated guidance”, another stratagem akin to hypnotic techniques.
The panel chair who makes such promises must keep those promises
and keep control of the hearing to ensure that it is effective. It cannot be
overemphasized that a detention review panel should make every effort to
ensure that the hearing process does not unnecessarily prolong the suffering
of “the one who suffers”.
Gratuitously long testimony, irrelevant questions by a participant or
questions that simply elicit the same testimony already given by a witness
should be avoided wherever possible. There are two reasons for this. First,
no legal proceeding should be needlessly prolonged. The best hearings are
conducted efficiently. Second, no participant in a hearing should be made
to suffer unnecessarily. This is especially important in teleconference hearings,
where it is difficult for participants to “take a break” in a brief adjournment.
It is not easy, in teleconferences, for people to move outside the
notional hearing room and thus get away from the tension of hearing evidence
contrary to their interests, to calm down in a private space with the
assistance of their advocate.
This means that a panel chair must be alert to minimizing the introduction
of irrelevant or repetitive evidence and should be skilled in techniques in
calming a distraught applicant. The hearing process itself can be very uncom-