The Art of Cross-Examination Requires Mastering the Art of Listening

The case began when a young lady whom we shall call Valerie used her CB radio to arrange a sexual rendezvous with a long distance truck driver. The trucker bragged to the defendant about his rendezvous with Valerie, and the defendant decided he, too, should have sex with her. The defendant, however, did not think it was necessary to obtain her consent, and got himself charged with burglary and sexual battery.

At the ensuing trial, he took the stand to testify that Valerie had invited him over to her home to have sex. He said he waited until nightfall, crawled through Valerie’s bedroom window, and engaged in consensual sex with her. Approximately one hour and 45 minutes into his testimony, he testified that, at the conclusion of the rendezvous, he went home and knocked on the door to have his mother let him in. The prosecutor immediately seized upon a discrepancy. The defendant crawled through Valerie’s window but knocked on his own door? Having heard and identified the weakness in the defendant’s testimony, the prosecutor then had to make sure the jury heard it too. He took these two incidents, placed them side by side, and let the jury draw their own conclusions.

The cross-examination went something like this:

Q. When you got home, what did you do?
A. Knocked on the door?
Q. When you got to Valerie’s what did you do?
A. Crawled through her window.
Q. You knocked on your own door?
A. Yes.
Q. But you crawled through Valerie’s window?
A. Yes.
Q. You knocked on the door of the house where you lived?
A. Yes.
Q. But you crawled through the window of the house where you’d been invited?
A. Yes.

The jury concluded that the defendant was guilty of both Burglary and Sexual Battery.