4 Ways to Help Witnesses Maintain Credibility

When it comes to testifying, the first and most fundamental rule is to tell the truth. In addition to the obvious reasons, it’s hard to trick or trap someone who’s telling the truth about everything. But sometimes witnesses are afraid to admit to mistakes or biases and inadvertently appear less than honest.  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

4 Tips for Finding the Right Interpreter

thinkstockphotos-498555620When a witness can’t understand or communicate in English, you need to get an interpreter. Evid C §752(a). It’s not as simple as just finding someone who speaks the same language as your witness. But getting the right interpreter is much easier if you follow these four tips. Continue reading

Don’t Let Your Witness Look Like a Liar

noseJurors have been bombarded with information about “body language.” This information is joined by common folklore about tell-tale signs of falsehood. Here are five things to practice with your witnesses to keep their body language consistent with their truthful testimony.

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10 Steps to Impeaching a Witness with Prior Depo Testimony

steps_78288477A witness’s deposition can be used for impeachment (i.e., to attack the witness’s credibility) by showing that the testimony on the stand isn’t consistent with the deposition testimony or “for any other purpose permitted by the Evidence Code.” CCP §2025.620(a). The quoted language permits the deposition to be used to show both prior inconsistent statements (Evid C §1235) and prior consistent statements (Evid C §1236).  Next time you have depo testimony that will impeach a witness, follow these 10 steps. Continue reading

8 Tips for Every Cross-Examination You Do

ThinkstockPhotos-57280447Your approach to cross-examination will vary depending on the “type” of witness being examined, e.g., the hostile witness, the flippant witness, the timid witness, or the sympathetic and truthful witness. But regardless of which type you’re dealing with—which can even change during your examination—there are some universal principles of cross-examination that apply in any situation. Continue reading

Really Listen to the Witness

listen_50736139It sounds obvious: You should always listen carefully to the witness during cross-examination. But listening means more than just hearing the words actually said. Ideally, your listening will go well beyond that, which can make all the difference in improving your cross-examination. Continue reading

9 Steps to Getting Business Records into Evidence

steps_78288477You know you can get business records into evidence under an exception to the hearsay rule, but you’re not exactly sure how to do it. It’s simply a mechanical process—just get your witness on the stand and follow these nine steps. Continue reading

Cross-Examining the Unimpeachable Witness

witness_87617035When you have to cross-examine a witness who is telling the truth—and is fully supported by a detailed consistent report prepared close to the time of the events he or she attests to—you’ll need to look for gaps in testimony and highlight and exploit those gaps if they fit your theory of the case. Continue reading

Questioning a Witness: Poor Questions Versus Good Ones

185496686When conducting direct examination, you generally can’t ask leading questions, i.e., ones that suggest a particular answer. Evid C §§764, 767(a)(2). And, of course, you can’t ask objectionable questions. For inexperienced practitioners, it can be hard to craft acceptable and effective questions while in the stressful moment. Practicing your questions in advance will be a great help, as will reviewing both positive and negative examples. Continue reading