• I'm happy to introduce the Styleforum Happy Hour, our brand new podcast featuring lively discussion about menswear and the fashion industry. In the inaugural edition, a discussion of what's going on in retail today. Please check it out on the Journal. All episodes will be also be available soon on your favorite podcast platform.

  • Styleforum Gives - Holiday Charity Auction 5: Good Art HLYWD rosette courtesy of Self Edge

    We are very proud to present this year's edition of the Styleforum Holiday Charity Auctions, this year in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane (www.rmhcspokane.org). Each Auction lasts 24 hours. Please follow and bid on all the auctions.

    The 5th auction is for a custom Good Art HLYWD bracelet courtesy of Self Edge. Please bid often and generously here

    Fok and the Styleforum Team.

  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Lawyers - Cross-Examination

odoreater

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2005
Messages
8,739
Reaction score
43
Any of you litigators out there have any tips for a young buck such as myself on effective cross-examination? Or perhaps a recommendation for a book on effective cross-examination? I mean, I know being good at cross-examination comes with a lot of experience, but is there some book out there that will give you some tips and tricks to get me on my way?

I think that a good cross-examination really impresses and wins over a jury. Any thoughts?
 

Mr. Checks

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2006
Messages
1,279
Reaction score
1
Prepare
Have a theme
Know how to frame your questions (e.g. to avoid objections or narrow answers)
Know the answer (from discovery) before asking the Q
Finish strong

Afterward: recognize that it never goes perfectly

Your local professional continuing education program probably has a good one-day class.
 

LexLoci

Active Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
I am no seasoned attorney by any means, but I can offer some advice.

Number 1
Prepare, go over every bit of deposition or other testimony that you have. There is a fact somewhere that helps you. Know it or at least be prepared to take advantage of it if it comes out on direct.

Number 2
Keep the questions simple, 1 fact per question. They shouldn't be questions at all, but statements that sound like questions.

"The blood was on your hands?"

"The car was red?"

etc.


Number 3
If you feel yourself about to say, "So...followed by some question that will seal the deal." Shut up and sit down and don't ask it, Matlock moments don't happen in real life. Right after you ask that question is when you get the answer you didn't expect and it feels like getting kicked in the crotch. Otherwise known as the "home run effect."


The trick is to let the jury come to the conclusion for you. If you feel the need to spell it out for them, you haven't done your job.
 

Huntsman

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2004
Messages
7,792
Reaction score
561
Originally Posted by LexLoci
. They shouldn't be questions at all, but statements that sound like questions.

"The blood was on your hands?"

"The car was red?"

etc.


No offense to my lawyer friends here, but even if this is a valid technique, it has always struck me as one of the two oldest and grubbiest of lawyers' tricks. Don't know why, but that always struck me as rather poor.

Regards,
Huntsman
 

odoreater

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2005
Messages
8,739
Reaction score
43
Originally Posted by Huntsman
No offense to my lawyer friends here, but even if this is a valid technique, it has always struck me as one of the two oldest and grubbiest of lawyers' tricks. Don't know why, but that always struck me as rather poor.

Regards,
Huntsman


Out of curiosity, what's the the other oldest trick?

By the way, as I understand it, leading questions are allowed on cross as a way of evening the playing field. When an attorney questions his own witness on direct, he's likely practiced with that witness so that the witness knows exactly what is going to be asked, and the attorney knows exactly what the answer is going to be. On the other hand, other than a deposition, the lawyer on cross hasn't had any chance to determine what kind of answers this witness is going to give and has a lot less control of the testimony. Therefore, he's allowed to lead the witnes as a way of evening the playing field.
 

alflauren

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
486
Reaction score
1
Absolutely, leading questions are not only proper, but expected. Ask pointed questions with out any room to wiggle, so that the witness' portion of the transcript looks like: "yes, yes, no, yes" instead of "well, maybe not but..."

If your state bar magazine has searchable archives, try a search for cross or depo tactics. (Or just try Google). It seems like every other bar magazine I get has some article on examination strategies.

My own personal favorite - one that I use a lot, but more often in depositions - is the awkward silence. If you ask a question and the witness gives a short response, wait for a second. Look like you're pondering the answer as if what you were fed was total bullshit. People being examined don't like awkward pauses, and they often fill that "dead air" with more testimony. Sometimes, that testimony is useful, sometimes not.
 

Huntsman

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2004
Messages
7,792
Reaction score
561
The other one is redefining any statement that is made as an admission. "So, you admit that you do not appreciate certain methods of questioning?" "No, sir, I state it." Anyway, with the explanations I can see the point, but I still have this visceral thing going on. ~ Huntsman
 

Mentos

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
382
Reaction score
2
Originally Posted by LexLoci
Number 3
If you feel yourself about to say, "So...followed by some question that will seal the deal." Shut up and sit down and don't ask it, Matlock moments don't happen in real life. Right after you ask that question is when you get the answer you didn't expect and it feels like getting kicked in the crotch. Otherwise known as the "home run effect."


I have heard that this is the point at which many young litigators go astray. When the record is full enough to support your claim, shut up.
 

LexLoci

Active Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Cross examination is where you control the witness and get them to say what you want. It isn't a grubby technique at all, afterall you are representing your client. When you are cross examining someone they aren't just going to vomit forth all the information you want them to. You are telling a story. To do that you have to focus on facts. If you put too many facts in one question, you can't get a straight answer.

Also, and obviously, if you do it poorly, it sounds poor. If you don't control them, they will end up saying whatever they want. There is an art to advocacy. A true artists makes it look like he isn't trying....but you can only get there by practice and work.

I would strongly suggest a few places:

1. www.nita.org

2. Trial Techniques by Mauet

3. The NY/NJ bar should also have plenty of useful information, and you probably have to take CLE courses, so find an intensive weekend trial course. Trust me, the info you get there will be much richer and fuller than you can get on an internet fashion messageboard.
 

horton

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
654
Reaction score
2
sit in on as many significant trials as you can, i.e., not just when your firm is involved.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

  • 1 - 4

    Votes: 27 3.5%
  • 5 - 10

    Votes: 135 17.4%
  • 11 - 20

    Votes: 252 32.5%
  • 21 - 30

    Votes: 123 15.9%
  • 31 - 40

    Votes: 68 8.8%
  • 41 - 50

    Votes: 47 6.1%
  • 51 - 60

    Votes: 23 3.0%
  • 61 - 70

    Votes: 21 2.7%
  • 71 - 80

    Votes: 16 2.1%
  • 81 - 90

    Votes: 8 1.0%
  • 91 - 100

    Votes: 8 1.0%
  • 100+

    Votes: 48 6.2%

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
428,730
Messages
9,223,438
Members
193,605
Latest member
MattNJ
Top