Vary or eliminate your “hooks” or “tags” while conducting cross examination
Leading questions may be asked in a number of ways. Usually they are declarations with a hook or tag at either end of them to signal that it is a question and not a statement (although we know better!). Sometimes inflection alone allows these hooks or tags to be discarded completely.
- Some examples are:
- “Isn’t it true that…?”
- “…isn’t that correct?”
- “…isn’t that right?”
- “It’s true that…”
- Often, there is neither hook nor question mark in a leading question. Ex: “You ate cereal for breakfast” Is not actually a question, but with inflection, it works just fine, and emphasizes that the lawyer is the focus of cross-exam, not the witness. If the opponent objects, repeat the “statement” exactly, and add a hook. “You ate cereal for breakfast, didn’t you?” The objection will look petty, because everyone knows what the “statement” meant.
- Your goal should be to condition the witness to the point where you don’t need to use hooks or tags. You may need to use hooks or tags at the beginning of the examination to help establish control and rhythm, and once the witness understands that you are in control, you can drop the tags. N. Avoid legalese.