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SMOKE-AND-MIRRORS CROSS-EXAMINATION AND COURTROOM POSITIONING

Where to StandRecently I (Bob Dekle) had my class doing practical exercises on concession-seeking cross-examination. See Cross-Examination Handbook for a discussion of the concession-seeking method.  Since we were in a mock courtroom, the non-performing students played the role of jurors and the witness took the witness stand. The first performer asked me if she should [...]

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 [...]

DRAGNET CROSS-EXAMINATION

On the old TV series Dragnet, Sergeant Joe Friday wanted his witnesses to tell him “Just the facts, ma’am, nothing but the facts.” This objective is as important on cross-examination as it was to Sergeant Friday. On cross-examination, you want just the facts, and you want your facts in small doses. One of the basic [...]

HONG KONG CROSS-EXAMINATION

A Barrister at WorkThe day before yesterday, I was in Hong Kong. I broke away from my travel group to make a visit to the High Court. What started as a tourist’s brief detour ended up giving me opportunities to watch a skilled Barrister’s cross-examination and to visit with that Barrister.A high profile murder trial [...]

INTERPLAY BETWEEN TAKING A DEPOSITION AND CROSS-EXAMINATION

David Boies on Cross-Examination and Depositions with the Microsoft Antitrust Case Illustration Deposition Purposes and Techniques David Boies’ performance in taking Bill Gates’s deposition in Department of Justice’s Sherman Antitrust case against Microsoft is an excellent illustration of how to focus on the purposes of the deposition and by doing so, select the right techniques. [...]

ART OF LISTENING – PART 2

The Art of Cross-Examination Requires Mastering the Art of ListeningThe 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 [...]

CROSS-EXAMINATION – KNOW THE ANSWER

Humor Makes the PointHumor can be the adhesive to make the point stick. And, the point is that the cross-examiner should know the answer before asking the question or not care what the answer is. Otherwise, as the saying goes, the cross may be “more suicidal than homicidal in nature.” The following transcript of a [...]

THE VELVET HAMMER DUELS WITH AN EXPERT WITNESS

Karen Koehler Cross-Examines an ExpertKaren Koehler, known by her adversaries as the “Velvet Hammer,” is a trial lawyer with Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Coluccio, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Washington Law School, a prolific writer and a guest columnist here. What follows is her insightful trial report on her cross-examination of a defense vocational [...]

CROSS-EXAMINATIONS IN THE EVOLUTION AND CREATIONISM TRIALS

The Scopes and Dover TrialsCross-examination Handbook delves into the Scopes trial, focusing on Clarence Darrow’s examination of adverse witness William Jennings Bryan utilizing the reduction-to-the-absurd technique to defeat him. And, some say that the ordeal contributed to Bryan’s death five days after the trial.While the 1925 Scopes trial involved the prosecution of a football coach [...]

CROSS-EXAMINING THE EXPERT – THE PRESUMED INNOCENT ILLUSTRATION

Cross-Examination Techniques DemonstratedPresumed Innocent, Scott Turow’s masterpiece thriller and courtroom drama, superbly illustrates how to conduct a winning cross-examination of an expert. The expert is forensic pathologist Doctor Tatsuo Kumagai, known to his friends as “Ted” and to others as “Painless.” Doctor Kumagai is called to testify in the murder trial of chief assistant prosecutor [...]