Do You Need an Expert to Spot Insanity?

The general rule is that you need an expert witness to testify when the subject is “sufficiently beyond common experience that the opinion of that expert would assist the trier of fact.” Evid C §801(a). When it comes to a person’s sanity, you don’t always need an expert. Continue reading

The Danger of Refreshing Recollection

Sometimes a witness needs documents to refresh his or her recollection. This can lead to a tough choice for attorneys. Continue reading

Do You Know When to Request a Sidebar?

After a party objects to the admission of evidence, the proponent of the evidence can respond by arguing that the objection doesn’t apply or isn’t valid, or that the evidence is admissible because of an exception to the ground stated in the objection. Where that argument is made can make a big difference—should you argue in open court or in a sidebar conference? Continue reading

8 Ways to Make Calling Witnesses More Dramatic

As a trial attorney, never forget your role as director of the courtroom play. Consider these staging decisions when it comes to calling witnesses. Continue reading

Don’t Do These 4 Things During Your Closing Argument

The permissible scope of counsel’s closing arguments before a jury is broad, but there are limits. Here are 4 things that tread into improper territory. Continue reading

How to Rehab Your Witness

What can you do if your witness’s truthfulness has been challenged? Use evidence of the witness’s prior consistent statement to rehabilitate your witness. Here’s how it’s done. Continue reading

7 Questions to Answer Before Using Opinion Character Evidence

There are situations in which you may want to introduce opinion character evidence at trial. But before you use a character witness in a civil case, ask yourself the following questions. Continue reading

9 Things to Tell Your Witness Before Cross-Examination

Part of preparing your witnesses for trial testimony includes preparing them to be cross-examined. Witnesses often worry that trick questions will make them say the wrong thing or that they’ll be made to look foolish. Tell them the following and they’ll be ready to handle any cross-examination.

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How to Control an Expert Witness

As with all witnesses, you must be able to control an expert witness during cross-examination. But many experts with experience in testifying treat cross-examiners like presidential candidates deal with the press: they ignore the question asked and answer the question they prefer. Here’s how to keep experts under your control. Continue reading

List of Trial Objections

Before heading into trial, review this list of trial objections. And keep it handy during trial. Continue reading