Questioning a Witness: Poor Questions Versus Good Ones

185496686When conducting direct examination, you generally can’t ask leading questions, i.e., ones that suggest a particular answer. Evid C §§764, 767(a)(2). And, of course, you can’t ask objectionable questions. For inexperienced practitioners, it can be hard to craft acceptable and effective questions while in the stressful moment. Practicing your questions in advance will be a great help, as will reviewing both positive and negative examples. Continue reading

Should You Save Something for Your Closing?

57277978Although it may be tempting to cover everything during cross-examination, there are situations in which it’s better to save something for your closing argument. In fact, it’s a time-honored rule among some litigators to always save something for your closing. But that strategy can be risky, too. Continue reading

3 Ways to Improve Trial Pacing

78724287One of the cornerstones in trying a good case is pacing. The attorney who proves everything proves nothing. It’s imperative that your case be pared down to its essential elements and presented concisely. Continue reading

Know When to Cross-Examine and Know When to Pass

witness_158992082There’s a time-honored “rule” that, if a witness hasn’t hurt your client’s case, don’t cross-examine the witness, just stay seated. But whether this injunction makes sense depends on the strength of your case and the possibility that the witness can actually help it. Here are some situations in which you’ll want to get up and cross! Continue reading

Prepare Your Expert to Testify: A Checklist

533402213Whenever you have retained an expert witness to testify in your case—whether in deposition or at trial—you need to prepare yourself and the expert. Don’t just sit back and assume that the expert, who many have testified many times before, has it all worked out. You need to be up to speed on his or her testimony and to make sure the expert has enough information to be effective. Continue reading

21 Things to Tell Your Testifying Witness

witness_87617035Before your friendly witness is called to the stand, you should go over some general guidelines with him or her. This is particularly true of inexperienced witnesses, but it can’t hurt to review these admonitions even with someone who’s very experienced in giving trial testimony. You also might want to give them a hard copy to look over just before testifying. Continue reading

Expert Tip: Use Jury Instructions in Your Opening and Closing

78724287By the time you prepare your opening statement, you’ll know specifically what the legal theories of your case are and generally what the jury instructions will be. By the time of your closing argument, the instructions will have been settled. Make sure to plan your opening and closing with the jury instructions in mind. Continue reading

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