Do you fear the witness?

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

There’s neither a need to browbeat a witness nor to twist his arm during cross-examination. In fact, a familiar analogy is Aesop’s story about the sun and wind arguing who's stronger between them. We all know how that story ends.

When we cross-examine, we forget that when we ask a question, we should actually want the witness to answer it. Yet, when the witness answers, we usually interrupt to tell him sternly to "just answer yes or no." Worse, if the witness had already answered, we even turn to the judge for help, asking him to "please strike out the answer of the witness because it is unresponsive and to admonish him to just answer yes or no." Unfortunately, most judges do not like it when they are ordered around by counsel. So: "motion denied, the answer will remain on record."

If we are confident of our case, we should not fear the witness or his answers.