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Beginning this Summer Seattle University Law School will offered an online course entitled “Visual Litigation and Today’s Technology.” Cross-examination visuals were featured because visuals can be extremely powerful weapons for cross-examination. They can be used to gain concessions supporting your case theory and undermining the other side’s case theory. Visuals can also be very effective for impeaching a witness. For examples, impeachment visuals can include: a prior inconsistent statement either in a document or in…
  As we have said here and in Cross-Examination Handbook, the primary goal of cross-examination is to capture the truth from the witness. On cross, you shouldn’t be trying to discover anything; you shouldn’t ask any interrogatory questions. You know the truths that the witness has to offer and you aim to extract those known truths. If the witness fails to provide the truths that you can prove by direct or circumstantial evidence or…
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Leading questions on cross. Leading questions. Leading questions. Open-ended cross-examination questions can have repercussions. The following is a courtroom cross-examination exchange between a defense attorney and a farmer with a bodily injury claim. It came from a Houston, Texas insurance agent. Q: “At the scene of the accident, did you tell the constable you had never felt better in your life?” A: “That’s right.” Q: “Well, then, how is…
As we discuss in Cross-Examination Handbook, there is no specific time frame that fits all cross-examinations because the extent of cross will vary depending upon the circumstances of the case. However, endless cross is tiresome, and the jurors will not recall much beyond the high points. Therefore, we recommend brevity. By editing down the content, the cross-examiner can better maintain the jury’s interest and be more effective. To make the best allocation of time…
In Cross-Examination Handbook we explain that if the witness is nonresponsive, one countermeasure is to object. The objection to a witness’s nonresponsive answer belongs exclusively to counsel who poses the question. You can also move to strike the nonresponsive answer. If the witness interjects harmful inadmissible evidence in the nonresponsive answer, you must object in order to preserve the issue for appeal and prevent later use by opposing counsel, such as in closing argument. However,…
Advice from David Paul Jones’s Rules of Cross-Examination, a British barrister who wrote over a century and a half ago 1.                  Except in indifferent matters, never take your eye from that of the witness; this is a channel of communication from mind to mind, the loss of which nothing can compensate. Truth, falsehood, hatred, anger, scorn, despair, and all the passions–all the soul–is there.                           2.                  Be not regardless, either, of the voice of the witness; next to…
Irving Younger’s 7th Commandment It is probably the most common mistake – the cross-examiner has the witness repeat their direct examination. Question: “On direct examination you told this jury that . . .” The error is grievous. It violates Irving Younger’s 7th commandment: “Don’t allow the witness to repeat his direct testimony.” Younger’s commandment directs the cross-examiner  to focus on accomplishing the goals of cross-examination which are to gain concessions that either bolster the cross-examiner’s…
On cross-examination, avoid pitting. When the cross-examiner asks the witness to contradict another witness, it’s called pitting. Here’s an example: Q. . . .You never told those detectives that you were a lookout in this case, huh? A. No I didn’t. Q. So you heard them both get up there and say that you told them that, right? . . . Q. And, now, I guess, you’re telling this jury that these two detectives came…
What follows is a list of five of my favorite books on cross-examination. These books are not strangers to this blog that concentrates on the art and science of cross-examination because I have blogged about them before. Below you will find the five favorites, including mine of course. With each book, you’ll find a link to where you could purchase it on Amazon as well as a gem from the earlier blogs and links to…
First Jury Selection Via Zoom in Texas An article in the May 11, 2020 ABA Journal, entitled “Could Zoom jury trials become the norm during the coronavirus pandemic” explored the constitutional hurdles to a virtual jury trial. The article quoted Locke Bowman, executive director of the MacArthur Justice Center in Chicago, as saying that “trials by video would likely compromise rights of defendants under the Sixth  Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which allows them to confront witnesses.”…