“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.
There’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!
The 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.