Exhibits and Adverse Witnesses

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Exhibits and Adverse Witnesses

Yesterday I was watching the Casey Anthony case and I saw a classic example of what you’d call an “antagonistic” witnesss. During opening statements, the defense attorney accused the defendant’s father of sexually molesting her when she was 8 years old and said that the father was involved in covering up the death of his 3 year old grand daughter.  As you can imagine, the father wasn’t too happy about it. Now, one day later, the father is on the witness stand (for the second time)...

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Asking for help… the right way

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Asking for help… the right way

Every day, in courtrooms across the country, young attorneys are conducting brilliant examinations.  During direct examination, they’re asking questions that grab the factfinder’s attention, paint a vivid picture of the scene, and elicit facts that persuade judges and jurors to believe the witness’s version of events.  During cross-examination, they’re pinning witnesses down on inconsistencies, impeaching witnesses’ credibility, and showing jurors why the witnesses’...

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How to Ask Leading Questions

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During cross-examination, would you like to prevent witnesses from dodging your questions?  Would you like to tell a compelling story?  Do you want jurors to look to YOU for the answers during cross-examination?  If so, you need to develop your skill of asking leading questions. This past summer, I taught a Trial Advocacy class at one of our local law schools.  It’s always interesting to go back to law school because, among other things, you realize that you take certain skills and...

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Avoiding Gunfights During Cross-Examination

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If you were in the police academy, one of the most important things you would learn is how to keep safe when you’re out on the street.  To stay safe, you’d want to learn how to prevent verbal confrontations from escalating into physical fights, and how to prevent physical fights from escalating into knifefights or gunfights.  As it turns out, one of the easiest ways to prevent situations from escalating to the next level is by keeping your emotional level lower than the perp’s emotional...

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Cross-Examining Your Client: You Play Like You Practice

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Cross-Examining Your Client: You Play Like You Practice

One of the most important pre-trial preparation steps you will undertake is getting your client ready for cross-examination.  You know that no matter how well you prepare the rest of your case, if your client falls apart during cross-examination, the case may be lost.  Yet despite its importance, many trial lawyers’ client cross-examinations preparations are woefully inadequate. The reason their attempts fall short isn’t because the attorneys don’t know what topics to tackle, and...

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