A Concrete and Humorous Cross-Examination Example
“More cross-examinations are suicidal than homicidal,” wrote Emory Buckner in Francis Wellman’s seminal work on cross, The Art of Cross-Examination.” And one way to cause a self-inflicted wound is to ask a “why” question. One illustration of this took place when a defense attorney was cross-examining a police officer during a felony trial. It went like this:
Q: Officer, did you see my client fleeing the scene?
A: No sir, but I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender running several blocks away.
Q: Officer, who provided this description?
A: The officer who responded to the scene.
Q: A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?
A: Yes sir, with my life.
Q: WITH YOUR LIFE? Let me ask you this then officer – do you have a locker room in the police station – a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?
A: Yes sir, we do.
Q: And do you have a locker in that room?
A: Yes sir, I do.
Q: And do you have a lock on your locker?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Now why is it, officer, IF YOU TRUST YOUR FELLOW OFFICERS WITH YOUR LIFE, that you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with those officers?
A: You see sir, we share the building with a court complex, and sometimes defense attorneys have been known to walk through that room.