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What is a better way of saying "two people have worked on their stories together"? Here's an example of a situation in which this phrase would come up:

A witness in a trial is suspected to have "worked on his story together with the defendant" and therefore, he is likely to be untruthful when answering questions. In this example, the witness is someone who would not benefit by lying other than getting the defendant off the hook. Someone like a family member.

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Maybe Hand in glove too. – Autoresponder Nov 22 '12 at 22:20

The witness has colluded with the defendant.

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Looking at few dictionary meaning and examples online, it seems that the person colluding gets something significant in return (e.g. sum of money). I've edited the question to narrow down who the witness may be in the example. For instance, a family member who would not benefit from lying in the courtroom in any way other than saving the defendant from a long jail sentence. – Mansour Nov 22 '12 at 14:47
I don't see that as a necessary or even particularly likely connotation of "collude". See dictionary.reference.com/browse/collude?s=t for a definition. Even if it were, though, "keeping my brother out of jail" is often considered a significant benefit. – Hellion Nov 22 '12 at 16:45

It would seem the two people have Collaborated.

  1. Work jointly on an activity, esp. to produce or create something.

In this case, they're producing a story that seemingly fits the evidence, but paints a picture of innocence.

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To use an informal phrase, you could say that the witness and the defendant are "in cahoots."

In Cahoots (with someone) Rur. In conspiracy with someone; in league with someone.

"We suspect that the players and trainer are in cahoots and crafting lies about steroid use in the team's locker room."

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good one! You beat me to it! – Kristina Lopez Nov 23 '12 at 4:08
This usage note also says that this idiom is "usually said about doing something dishonest." – JLG Nov 23 '12 at 5:02
tylerharms, please give your source for your definition, or link to it. – JLG Nov 23 '12 at 5:02
source added to the above definition. – tylerharms Nov 23 '12 at 7:20

I just read a hit on a Google search that said something about rehearsing their stories. This happens all the time between attorneys and witnesses.

rehearsed stories | Life On The Edge
https://girlfriday6.wordpress.com/tag/rehearsed-stories/ - Cached
Posts about rehearsed stories written by. ... Tag Archives: rehearsed stories. Not Found. Apologies, but no results were found for the requested archive. Perhaps ...

Story Time
www.callawyer.com/clstory.cfm?eid=923937 - Cached
But his story needed work. In those days, trials could be trailed for a very long time. So my client and I spent many days together rehearsing his testimony.

I'm sure that I've heard rehearsed their stories in the dialog from police shows on TV and movies where everyone has exactly the same story and tells it in exactly the same way, down to the smallest details.

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Attorneys rehearsing witnesses is entirely legitimate (so long as the attorney does not tell the witness what to say) : two witnesses getting together to make sure they tell the same story is not. I think OP means the second, which might be collusion or conspiracy. – TimLymington Nov 22 '12 at 14:29
@Tim: Yes, I agree. I'm just suggesting that the same word is used for collusion when two or more suspects repeat what to the cops seems a rehearsed story. And one of the hits talks about a lawyer & client. Wasn't Denzel Washington in a movie about fact-checking some KIA soldier who was going to be awarded a Medal of Honor? There was another movie about a woman officer in Iraq or Afghanistan who was KIA in suspicious circumstances. In both movies, there was collusion & rehearsed testimony among the witnesses, not a lawyer & witnesses. – user21497 Nov 22 '12 at 15:13
I think this is the best answer so far, and considering @TimLymington's comment, even if the attorney tells the witness what to say, it can still be referred to as "rehearsing", albeit not a legitimate one. – Mansour Nov 22 '12 at 15:37

In light of the OP's edit, I'd say that the family member is corroborating or backing up the defendant's story and is essentially providing him/her with an alibi. If the witness' statement is a fabrication, it would be a false alibi.


confirm or give support to (a statement, theory, or finding):
the witness had corroborated the boy’s account of the attack

Alibi (which apparently also has an informal verb form):

verb (alibis, alibiing, alibied)
provide an alibi for:
her friend agreed to alibi her

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But would stating that the witness is "just corroborating the defendant's story", imply possible unlawful acts on parts of the witness and the defendants? I don't feel like corroboration has any negative connotations in itself. – Mansour Nov 22 '12 at 15:30
"Providing an alibi" is ambiguous enough to imply that there may have been collusion between the defendant and one or more of the witnesses. Quotes from M-W Online:"Her doctor is her alibi: she was in surgery at the time of the murder." No collusion here, but in "She made up an alibi for why she missed the meeting", and her paramour corroborated it [my addition], there may or may not have been collusion: context is required. – user21497 Nov 22 '12 at 15:52
@Mansour Point taken. I believe that a false alibi might serve your purpose. – coleopterist Nov 22 '12 at 16:42

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