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

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 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

For Richer or Poorer: Don’t Discuss a Party’s Financial Status with the Jury

woman zipping her mouth shut so she won't discuss parties' financial status with juryMany of us were taught that it’s impolite to refer to someone’s financial status. In a courtroom, it may also be misconduct. Continue reading

Revisiting the Dying Declaration Exception

life and death; dying declarant must believe death is imminentThe “dying declaration” exception to the hearsay rule just jumped from law school textbooks onto California newspapers: A young woman who was stabbed and bleeding told officers about who had assaulted her shortly before she died, leading to the arrest of two suspects. It’s time to review what’s required to meet this hearsay exception. 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

FAQs about Redirect Examination

After the other side has had a chance to cross-examine your witness, you get another bite at the apple—redirect examination. Knowing when and how to do redirect is key. Continue reading

5 Tips for Crafting a Clear Opening Statement or Closing Argument

Clarity is key. To be persuasive, the meaning of opening statements and closing arguments must be clear to the jury. Here are five tips for attaining clarity, with illustrative examples for each. Continue reading

What Expert Attorneys Do During Direct Examination

How the attorney and witness appear to the jury can be as important as the words that are spoken. Here are four tips from expert trial attorneys that will make your direct examination more effective regardless of what you ask the witness. Continue reading