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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,” [...]

LEADING VERSUS LOADED

According to the state’s factual theory in the Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, the kidnapper used a homemade ladder to climb into the child’s second story window, and the ladder broke when he climbed back down the ladder with the added weight of the child. The child died from blunt trauma to the head, and it was [...]

IMPEACHMENT WITH SILENCE – A LINDBERG CASE LESSON

Cross-Examination of the Expert on Silence One of the key pieces of evidence in the Lindbergh kidnapping case was a shoddily built homemade ladder found on the grounds of the Lindbergh estate. As soon as a qualified crime scene technician arrived at the Lindbergh home, the ladder was examined for fingerprints. At that time the [...]

ON QUALIFICATION: LINDBERG CASE ILLUSTRATION

Cross-Examining the Witness Who Qualifies the AnswerWe lawyers love to ask yes-no questions on cross-examination. Trial advocacy schools teach us to ask such questions, but witnesses often refuse to give us yes-or-no answers. The witness’s refusal to give us the answer we crave may stem from many reasons. Let us examine three of them: (1) [...]

DISTORTING THE WITNESS’S TESTIMONY: LINDBERGH CASE

Cross-Examination Distorts the TestimonyQuestioning is a cooperative effort. The examiner suggests facts to the witness, and on the basis of the presupposed facts, requests additional information. The witness adopts the suggested facts as true and provides the requested information. Consider the following simple exchange:Q: What is your name? [Presupposed fact, the witness has a name; [...]