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

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

How to Put Partial Evidence in Complete Context

When evidence presented during direct examination is distorted by being taken out of context, you can counteract that distortion by invoking the rule of completeness. Continue reading

How to Cross-Examine with Inconsistent Depo Testimony

A witness on the stand has made a statement that’s inconsistent with his or her earlier deposition testimony and has committed to the inconsistency. As the cross-examining attorney, how should you handle it? 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

Before You Cross-Examine, Write This Down

“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. Continue reading

Objecting to an Ambiguous or Unintelligible Question

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. Continue reading

The Best Way to Start a Cross-Examination

The key to a successful cross-examination is to start strong. The beginning of your cross is the time to go for the jugular. Here’s an example of how it’s done. Continue reading

13 Routinely Helpful Cross-Examination Questions

thinkstockphotos-471597352 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. Continue reading

The Best Way to Attack an Opposing Expert

57277978You rarely want to attack an opposing expert witness directly. Your best bet during cross-examination is to use peripheral or tangential ways of assailing the expert’s views. Continue reading