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Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

How does a person get sworn in during a courtroom session? (Pretty please with sugar on top...read the questions in the details.)?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (21830 points ) August 17th, 2011

In the US, at least in the past, a person put their right hand over a copy of the Bible and was asked, “Will you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Does this still happen today? What if the person isn’t Christian? Does that make it null and void? What is the protocol in other countries during a court proceeding? One inquiring mind would like to know.

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9 Answers

filmfann's avatar

It was left hand on the Bible, right hand in the air.

I had to testify twice in my life. Once in Civil Court, the other in Family Court.
Neither time was I actually sworn in.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@filmfann Thank you for the correction as well as the answer.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Just went to Family Court on Monday. No Bible, instructed to raise my right hand, state my name for the record clearly, and to swear to tell the truth. There was no “So help me God.”

Your_Majesty's avatar

In my multicultural country one must put his/her hand on a holy book according to their own belief in court. I rarely witness people from other religion other than Islam making a vow in court since the majority of people here are Islamic people.

More or less, I think this kind of ‘culture’ is just a formality in court that is preserved to keep the history of the court itself. No one can make you go to hell from violating men-made rules.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it depends by state possibly. I know when I was younger I remember hearing you could take the option of not putting your hand on the bible and just swearing to tell the truth. That would have been NY or MD, but I don’t know it for a fact. Probably now they don’t bother with the bible in most courtrooms if I had to guess.

chyna's avatar

In my state no bible, but right hand raised and swear to tell the truth.

Blackberry's avatar

Wow, I thought the bible thing was a requirement, but it does seem to be a state by state thing. Progress for the win.

zenvelo's avatar

When I was sworn in at my divorce trial three weeks ago, no bible, just an “I do”.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m having trouble remembering the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of “Do you swear to tell the truth, under penalty of perjury?”. No Bible, no hand raising, no “so help you God”, and no “whole truth, nothing but the truth”. Which actually seemed much more honest, because they don’t want the whole truth and nothing but the truth, just a sort of kind of maybe truthish.

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