Five Keys to a Killer Cross-Examination
Created on March 15, 2018
Trial is a verbal war where the stakes are high and the consequences are enormous. Both sides in the battle have strengths and weaknesses in their case, and at trial the jury have two clear cut choices. The Plaintiff and the Defendant will espouse starkly different theories and have entirely opposite points of view, and the key to victory is helping the jury identify with your point of view. A critical part of this battle, cross examination is about a "search for the truth." A good cross examination challenges a witness in every respect concerning facts, memory, reliability, credibility, and perception. The devil is always in the details, and an effective cross will elicit the details that are favorable to your case.
There are basic strategies, requiring the power of persuasion, to get a jury to view, comprehend, and digest the case in a way that is consistent with your vision: 1) communicate a consistent theory which convinces all who listen; 2) weave the facts into a rationale and relatable story; 3) turn your opponent's witnesses into your own; 4) exploit inconsistencies and weaknesses in adversarial testimony; and finally, 5) control witnesses and insist that their answers be responsive to your questions - especially when those answers will harm the the opposing party's case.
Taught by nationally recognized criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, this course is a crucial introduction to cross examination for newer lawyers, and a great refresher for the skilled trial attorney.
- Build a compelling "Theory of the Case" by branding your central theme and clearly conveying it to the jury
- Tell a story that is logical, relatable, and passionate
- Turn adversarial witnesses into advocates for your position
- Impeach witnesses and exploit the weaknesses in their testimony
- Control witnesses by setting the tempo, tone, and content of their responses
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