Your objective is to determine how and when to present each witness, exhibit, and other item of evidence most persuasively during trial. The key to meeting this objective is breaking it down into these four steps.
In his 2007 deposition in his suit against a reporter, Donald Trump encountered very prepared attorneys. As the Washington Post describes, they “confronted the mogul with his past statements—and with his company’s internal documents, which often showed those statements had been incorrect or invented.” Regardless of your politics or personal feelings, Trump’s deposition presents an excellent example of how to effectively cross-examine an adverse witness in a deposition.
Earlier this year I sat as a juror on a five-week murder trial. Here are some of the lessons I learned from debriefing my fellow jurors and from my own experience as Juror #101.
- Use exhibits strategically. The exhibits in this case were very important, as was the ability to display them effectively during trial. Both attorneys did their best to make sure we could see the exhibits that were referred to. But there were too many exhibits, and they were used in a rather disjointed fashion. It was distracting and confusing. Plan ahead to be sure you’ve focused on the essence of the case in 1) your selection of exhibits and 2) the witnesses you will use to introduce and explain them.
- Stress the hard evidence. There were 22 witnesses in our case, and, though no one seemed to be outright lying, it was difficult to determine which testimony was credible. On the other hand, the tangible evidence—especially cell phone records—was unassailable. Figure out in advance the best way to present the best evidence; stress it during your closing argument.