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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

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

Know When to Cross-Examine and Know When to Pass

witness_158992082There’s a time-honored “rule” that, if a witness hasn’t hurt your client’s case, don’t cross-examine the witness, just stay seated. But whether this injunction makes sense depends on the strength of your case and the possibility that the witness can actually help it. Here are some situations in which you’ll want to get up and cross! Continue reading

Keep Cross-Examination Short (Unless You Shouldn’t)

153165013A successful evangelist once said about his sermons: “Nobody ever got religion after the first twenty minutes.” His time estimate may be wrong, but every evangelist and trial attorney has wrestled with the short attention span of their audiences. Continue reading

How to Use Technology for Effective Cross-Examination

presentationAA049409The following is a guest blog post by Jeff Bennion, a solo practitioner in San Diego who specializes in personal injury and consulting on e-discovery and litigation technology.

A good cross-examination should come off as scripted. California Evidence Code §767(a)(2) allows for leading questions on cross-examination, and a good trial attorney should lead the witness through the narrative using only questions that he or she knows the answer to. But things don’t always go according to plan. When a witness gives an answer that you did not expect or that is contrary to what you learned in discovery, you need to have a plan for showing your impeachment evidence to the jury. Continue reading

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