Cross-Examination: Tips for Young Attorneys and Experienced Litigators
Recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” an effective cross-examination remains no simple feat. For both the young attorney and experienced litigator, a successful cross-examination requires deep knowledge and preparation.
Diana Manning, Benjamin DiLorenzo, and Kyle Valente of Bressler, Amery & Ross share tips gathered from their experience on cross-examinations.
A Primer for Cross-Examination
Questions posed during cross-examination must be related in some manner to the issues or topics raised during the witness’s direct examination. Often, litigators try to ask leading and straightforward questions during cross-examination designed to elicit one or two-word answers or agreement with the questioner’s proposition
Preparing for Cross-Examination
Knowing the facts, a witness’s prior deposition testimony or statements that the witness may have made to others, whether set forth in medical records or other documents, enables an attorney to recognize inconsistencies and confront the witness with them. Familiarity with the case file for witness statements, medical records, deposition testimony (if any), and other relevant documents that may be introduced for impeachment purposes is crucial.
Mastery of the Rules
Knowledge and familiarity of the controlling rules of evidence are part and parcel to a successful cross-examination. A litigator who is well-versed in the rules governing what is fair game and what is off limits will have an easier time navigating an examination than one who is not.
The Bottom Line
Cross-examination is the most challenging and important aspect of trial practice. There are no substitutes for preparation and knowledge, all of which combine for a rewarding and optimal experience.
Are you interested in learning more tips on cross-examination? Read more in this law.com article.