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.
“The toughest part of being a trial attorney, whether criminal or civil, is pulling off an excellent cross,” says Toni Messina in her article for Above the Law. So, if you’re a new trial attorney, or it’s been a while, it’s natural to be nervous about an upcoming cross-examination. An excellent way to calm your nerves and set yourself up for success is to write down virtually all of your questions and related information in advance. Here’s what to write.
When examining a witness, counsel should ask questions that are intelligently phrased, concise, and clear in meaning. No one should have to guess at what the question means. If opposing counsel asks a question that can’t be understood or may be misunderstood by the witness, object on the ground that it’s ambiguous or unintelligible.