Organizing the cross part 3

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
11-Nov-2007

How do you organize the order of the examination?

The first and the last questions are the ones best remembered and have the most impact, according to the principle of primacy and recency. So save your two best points - either the ones that you know will do the most damage to the opponent's case, or the ones that will build up your case the best - at the start and end of the examination.

Especially at the start of the cross, you will invariably have the undivided attention of the whole courtroom. After the direct examiner says "no further questions" and the judge turns to you and says, "cross-examination, counsel", the courtroom is usually filled with anticipation of what you will do. Somehow, the court expects a fight between you and the witness, and that's why their attention is at its peak. Play this up and don't disappoint by asking the first series of questions on your strongest points. Ask short, pointed, and leading questions.

Then, at the end, signal the conclusion of your cross by saying to the witness, "my last set of questions will focus on what you testified to on direct regarding …" Again, ask this last set in short, crisp and leading questions, making sure that the witness will not answer unexpectedly by asking questions that build on the last.

With practice and more practice, coupled with preparation and more preparation, you will actually look forward to cross-examinations rather than dread it, as will be your wont in the beginning of your career as a litigator.