Cross Exam Basics

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Overview of the cross exam basics:

“Cross-examination” is not a good title for this part of the trial. Rather, we should call this part of the trial, “My turn to testify.” See James W. McElhaney, The Power of the Proper Mindset: During Cross-Examination, the Real Witness Is You , A.B.A. J. Apr. 2007, at 30. Cross-examination is your turn to testify directly to the jury or panel.

  • Once you realize that cross-examination is not an examination at all, then things will start to click. This is your chance to testify directly to the jury or panel, and the role of the witness is to validate your testimony. You are not there to get information from the witness. You are there to have the witness confirm the information you already know.
  • The witness should play very little role while you are testifying. If you are doing this right, the witness might as well not be there. You are telling a story (testifying) and the witness is just along for the ride. You could can even look directly at the panel while you are testifying, with the witness just be making “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know” sounds in the background.

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