Be brief and substantial

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
21-Feb-2008

We are prone to making a big fuss about something not so big, believing that if we compile a critical mass of them, we will be able  to dent the witness' testimony on direct.

Better to focus your attention on 2 or 3 substantial points, rather than wasting it on several minor points which will only damage your credibility: it will make you appear as if you have nothing substantial on the witness, that's why you are harping on insignificant details. Brief, simple and substantial: those should be your guideposts.

Asking cross-examination questions on trivial matters also serves to alienate the judge, who may view your cross-examination as a total waste of his time. Note that when you rise to cross-examine a witness, the judge (and even those who are just watching the proceedings) invariably expects nothing less than a fight between you and the witness. If your questions do not touch the heart of the case, or of the witness' testimony, he will feel that you've let him down and treat you accordingly. And that's definitely not good for you: nobody wants a hostile judge.