At least around here, maybe not in Milwaukee, maybe not in Brookfield, maybe not in Madison, but around these parts, if you're gonna suggest that a cop is crooked, you're gonna suggest that a cop committed crimes, then you better have something other than "Your elbow was on the table."

From Season 1, Episode 7 of Making a Murderer, spoken by Ken Kratz.

Can you please provide me the explanation of the phrase "Your elbow was on the table" in the context of the above excerpt. The DA resolutely defends the work of the police but what he means by saying that phrase I am not able to understand.

  • 1
    I would hazard a guess that it means that if you wish to bring an accusation against a cop it had better be something substantial rather than some mere "breach of etiquette". Apr 13, 2016 at 11:53
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    Side note: Should be "The DA resolutely defends ..." "Defend" is a verb. "Defense" is a noun.
    – Jay
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


Putting your elbows on the table is considered improper etiquette and bad manners. (See #8 in this post, e.g.)

So, by saying:

you better have something other than "Your elbow was on the table."

the author means, "you better have something more substantial than some trivial infraction."

Any trivial offense would suffice here; the author could have just as well said something along the lines of:

you better have something other than "You used the wrong fork at dessert."

  • By "trivial infraction" you mean the spelucative arguments of defense attorneys who based their defense of the possible police conspiracy against their client?
    – bart-leby
    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:11
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    I think it means the police in question must be doing something VERY bad, and you'd better have some hard evidence, not just a vague suspicion.
    – J.R.
    Apr 13, 2016 at 12:20
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    @j.r. Whoa, I upvoted your answer, but your comment isn't right. The original statement, and your answer, say that you better not just be talking about, as you say, a "trivial infraction" -- breaking some arbitrary rule of ettiquette as opposed to a serious crime. While it may well be true that the DA would also demand hard evidence, nothing in the quote says that.
    – Jay
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:39
  • I think that I have found out what the DA meant by saying that phrase in the context of the seventh part of TV series Making a Murderer. The two cops were searching in residence of Steven Avery but they did not inform their boss that they were deposing in the civil trial in which Steve Avery demanded compensation for his unjust conviction. Probably this is supposed to be "trivial infraction" or "breaking some arbitrary rule of ettiquette" in the eyes of the prosecutor.
    – bart-leby
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:12
  • @Jay - You may be right; in my zeal to furnish more information, I may have read too much into the original quote. Nice catch.
    – J.R.
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:16

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