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RELAX – “IT’S EXRAORDINARILY RARE TO LOSE A CASE ON CROSS-EXAMINATION” BUT EXCEPTIONS EXIST

Observations in The Elements of Trial by Friedman and CummingsIn their new book TheElements of Trial (Trial Guides 2013), Rick Friedman and Bill Cummings make a point that we make in Cross-Examination Handbook that a well- planned cross-examination presents little risk to the cross-examiner. We point out that cross-examination is the examiner’s opportunity to elicit [...]

ADVANCED TRIAL ADVOCACY INSTITUTE

Seattle University launches Advanced Trial Advocacy InstituteMarilyn Berger and I have developed and chair this week-long (June 2-6, 2014) Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute. The Institute offers a proven conceptual approach to trial practice combined with premier trial principles and strategies for every phase of trial from preparation through closing argument. During the course the best [...]

IMPEACHMENT BY PRIOR NON-STATEMENT

MORE CROSS-EXAMINATION IN THE LINDBERGH KIDNAPPING CASEProsecutor David T. Wilentz (left) and Key Witness John F. CondonThe law has long recognized the propriety of impeachment by prior inconsistent statement. The first description of the proper method for such impeachment was given in the 1820 divorce case tried in the House of Lords, where King George [...]

HOW NOT TO IMPEACH BY PRIOR INCONSISTENT STATEMENT

Cross-Examination in the Lindbergh Kidnapping CaseOn more than one occasion during the cross-examination of John F. Condon, the star witness in the Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, the defense attempted to get Condon to admit to prior inconsistent statements. Condon had described his meeting with and delivery of the ransom money to the mysterious figure “Cemetery John,” [...]

LINCOLN THE CROSS-EXAMINER

The centerpiece of the legend of the Almanac Trial is Lincoln’s cross-examination of the eyewitness to the killing. Was he really a good cross-examiner? Frederick Trevor Hill, who wrote the first book about Lincoln’s law practice seems to have thought so. Hill said:  Cross-examination makes greater demands upon a lawyer than any other phase of trial [...]

CROSS-EXAMINATION VIDEOS

Ann Murphy’s Gift of Cross-Examination VideosProfessor Ann Murphy (pictured here) has compiled a collection of videos and photographs that can be used to enliven any class presentation on evidence or cross-examination. This collection is valuable not only for evidence and trial advocacy professors but also for attorneys and law students who want to watch how [...]

EVIDENCE PROFESSOR’S GOLD MINE: PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

Ann Murphy’s Gift to Evidence ProfessorsProfessor Ann Murphy (pictured here) has given professors who teach evidence and trial advocacy a spectacular gift – a collection of photographs and videos that will enliven any evidence class presentation. Professor Murphy, who teaches evidence at Gonzaga Law School and whom I met last summer when she was a [...]

KEY TO TRIAL ADVOCACY: “A HUMAN STORY BASED ON HUMAN VALUES”

Each semester in my Comprehensive Trial Advocacy course, the law students go to court, observe a day in trial and write a report about what they saw and learned. Students select either federal, state or municipal court, and choose either a civil or criminal trial. J. Spencer Thorson’s  report on a criminal case trial highlights [...]

TED BUNDY CASE CROSS-EXAMINATION

Last Friday (December 6, 2013) I (Bob Dekle) spoke at the Minnesota County Attorneys Association Convention. We flew into Minneapolis on Thursday and stayed through Monday. It was 81 degrees F when we left Lake City and -11 when we arrived at the airport in Minneapolis. As a lifelong Floridian who has seen more snow [...]

SUICIDAL REDIRECT EXAMINATION

There’s an old saying that cross-examination is more often suicidal than homicidal. The saying refers to the fact that many lawyers do irreparable harm to their cases by conducting an inept cross-examination. Sometimes the witness will commit suicide by blurting out things far better left unblurted. When this happens, the cross-examiner should abandon the role [...]