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Anatomy of a Murder The primary purpose of cross-examination should be to catch the truth. The sought-after truth is evidence that supports your case theory or undercuts your opponent’s case theory. This is nothing new. In the Art of Cross-Examination authored by Francis Wellman, a chapter is contributed by Emory Buckner. In that chapter, Buckner writes that “more cross-examinations are suicidal than homicidal in nature.”  He postulates that this is a result of cross-examiners not understanding…
With the passing of Herman Wouk on May 17 at 103, we can remember his great masterpiece The CaineMutiny about sailors on a World War II destroyer minesweeper who mutiny against their incompetent Captain Queeg. Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny play and for a while worked on the script for the movie in which Humphrey Bogart gave an Oscar winning performance as Captain Queeg in the Caine Mutiny movie. The basic facts underlying the…
An example of what the Pace Law School webpage has to offer is the British commentary of Solicitor Anthony Wooding (hence defence rather than defense and criticised vs. criticized) along with the transcript of the cross-examination of an expert witness in the 1930 trial of Arthur Rouse by Queen’s Counsel Sir Norman Birkett. This is the commentary and transcript of the cross: “The following is an extract from a famous cross examination of an expert…
Attendees at Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Summer Training Just returned from Lake Chelan, Washington where the Washington Prosecuting Attorneys Association conducted its Summer Training. My subject once again was “Great Cross-Examinations and Techniques” and the lessons are drawn from great cross-examinations in history and in the movies. As usual it was well received because of the subject matter. Also, we play trivial pursuits and I give away Cross-Examination Handbook as a prize, among others.…
Houston – Hurricane Harvey Regional Training Last week I spoke on “Great Cross-Examinations and Techniques” at the 2018 Hurricane Harvey Regional Training conducted by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. My half-day presentations were at Victoria College in Victoria, Texas on June 6; South Texas College of Law in Houston on June 7; and the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont on June 8. The Hurricane Harvey Regional Training program was developed because hurricane Harvey…
George (Bob) Dekle Bob Dekle recently reviewed Jury Selection Handbook as follows: Of all the portions of the trial, the part that I hated the most was jury selection. I had a keen sense of both how important it was and how inadequate I was to do a good job of it. I had not been practicing law very long before I decided that in most cases the trial is over when the judge says…
In his book Examining Witnesses, Michael Tigar recommends how to commence cross-examination. He borrowed the technique from Terry McCarthy and it bears repeating here again. You don’t have to be cross to cross-examine. Tigar states: To begin (cross-examination) strong you must choose an area in which the witness will agree with you. Preferably, the witness will also want to agree with you. What do I mean “want to”? If you are going to cross-examine…
Learning Cross-Examination Techniques by Experience Don’t learn cross-examination skills by trial and error in trial – the sink or swim method. It is not unusual for fledgling trial lawyers to learn by trial and error in trial. The downside is this sink-or-swim schooling in cross-examination can be not only the drowning of the cross-examiner but also someone else.   Another method is to practice cross-examination in professional development workshops or in law school classes where…
Or Better Yet – Ten Cross-Examination Guidelines The late, great Professor Irving Younger (whose CLE videotapes are still gems and worth viewing) gave us the ten commandments of cross-examination. He could talk all day about them, using memorable and humorous illustrations. We cover these commandments in Cross-ExaminationHandbook. Professor Younger threatened to haunt his listeners if they ever violated one his ten commandments. These ten commandments are still viable and important: IRVING YOUNGER’S TEN COMMANDMENTSOF CROSS-EXAMINATION…
Carolina Academic Press has just published JurySelection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selection (374 pages) by Ronald Clark and Thomas O’Toole. Jury selection can be a terrifying experience for even the most seasoned trial attorneys. Jury Selection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selectionis a companion to Cross-Examination Handbook because jury selection and cross-examination are the most challenging of trial skills.The book offers two perspectives on the principles and practices…