Begin and End with Your Strongest Questions

use strong question to open and close your cross-examination of a trial witnessWhen cross-examining a witness, almost always begin and end with your strongest questions. Except in a couple of situations. Continue reading

Get a Crash Course from Your Expert

Learn fast from your expert about the area of expertiseSome lawyers decide at the beginning of a case that they’ll never be able to understand what the expert is talking about, and they make no effort to do so. Bad plan! Regardless of the expert’s skill, it’s the lawyer’s responsibility to make sure that his or her expertise is presented to the trier of fact in an admissible and persuasive way. To do that, the lawyer needs to understand the expert’s testimony and field of expertise. Here are four ways to educate yourself fast. Continue reading

Should You Object to Compound Questions?

A question to a witness is objectionable on the ground that it’s compound if it joins two or more questions with the disjunctive “or” or the conjunctive “and.” But it may not always make sense to object. Here’s a look at the dangers of compound questions and how to handle them. Continue reading

3 Times Not to Ask Leading Questions on Cross

attorney questioning witness during cross-examinationLeading questions are the main tool of the cross-examiner—they tell a witness how to answer by suggesting an answer. See Evid C §764. But you should also know when using leading questions on cross-examination isn’t the best technique. Continue reading

3 Things to Know about the Crime-Fraud Exception

lawyer meeting with clients and getting confidential informationExceptions to the attorney-client privilege in California are set out in Evid C §§956–962. Of particular interest since the FBI’s raid on the office of President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has been the crime-fraud exception to the privilege. Under this exception, there’s no attorney-client privilege “if the services of the lawyer were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit a crime or a fraud.” Evid C §956. Let’s break that down into three keys points to know. Continue reading

3 Things to Consider When Preparing a Young Witness

girl covering her mouth before testifying in courtWhen it comes to preparing a child to testify at trial, there are at least three things that differ from preparing an adult witness. Continue reading

Do You Need an Expert Witness, and If So, What Type?

Retaining an expert witness is expensive and may not be necessary in every case. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones & Jones firm: Just because the other side has an expert or because experts have traditionally been used in similar cases doesn’t mean you need one. And if you decide you do need an expert, make sure it’s the best type for your case. Continue reading

How to Cross-Examine on Reputation

Try this hypothetical: Opposing counsel has just finished direct examination of a witness who testifies that your adversary has the reputation of being scrupulously honest in all aspects of his life, including business transactions. How can you cross-examine on the nebulous concept of “reputation”? Continue reading

How to Deal with Racial Bias in Court

From the disproportionate incarceration of African-American men to the implicit bias of lawyers, jurors, and judges, Jeff Adachi, Public Defender for the City and County of San Francisco, explains how racial disparities are rampant in our legal system. And then he explains how lawyers can deal with it in court. Continue reading

5 Things to Do ASAP When a Client Calls from Jail

When a person’s liberty is at stake, time is of the essence. Here’s what to do when a call comes in from a client (or prospective client) in custody. Continue reading