There are some questions that are virtually always safe to ask during cross-examination and often elicit pleasantly surprising answers. Consider asking these questions on your next cross—they could make all the difference.
- Have you talked about this case with the lawyer for Mr. Jones? How many times?
- Didn’t Mr. Jones’s lawyer remind you of some of the facts you had forgotten?
- Did you give any statements to anyone about the facts of this case?
- Have you talked with other witnesses about what their testimony has been? Or is going to be?
- Did you ever make any notes about the facts of this case?
- Do you have any social or blood relationship with Mr. Jones, or any of the witnesses called by him? Or with any of his lawyers?
- Have you prepared for testimony with videotaping equipment? Why? How many repetitions of your testimony did you shoot?
- Did you read the deposition you gave earlier in this case?
- Have you helped any other witnesses refresh their recollection about what happened?
- Have you talked to other witnesses to be sure that your stories are consistent?
- Are you being paid anything to reimburse you for your testimony? For time you have had to take off from work? For time spent preparing your testimony?
- Will you be any better off financially if Mr. Jones wins this case?
- Has the lawyer for Mr. Jones showed you any writing or diagrams to help you prepare for your testimony?
Listen carefully to the witness’s answers, and be flexible if they take you in a direction you hadn’t planned.
For expert guidance on planning for and conducting cross-examination, including many model cross-examinations, turn to CEB’s Effective Direct and Cross-Examination, chaps 3, 5. Also check out CEB’s program Evidence: Tips for Effective Direct and Cross Examination, available On Demand.
Other CEBblog™ posts on cross-examination:
- 8 Tips for Every Cross-Examination You Do
- Cross-Examining the Unimpeachable Witness
- 12 Must-Do Tasks Before Cross-Examination
© The Regents of the University of California, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.