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HOW TO CROSS EXAMINE

Mark your questions on paper and draw a line down the centre to divide the pages for questions to be asked.  Use the other side to make notes of  the answers as the witness testifies.


Prepare for each witness that will be cross examined. Review the disclosure, the overall case, and the part the witness plays in it.


Ask the witness brief and direct questions. If there are points on which the witness is weak, concentrate on those.  Ask simple questions in the beginning to make the witness feel comfortable. Lead up to the more complex questions.


Ask the witness questions about the specific evidence, whether it is for purposes of explanation, clarification, or to dispute something else that has been said during the course of the trial.


Make statements that will help your case and have the witness to confirm your statements. Use terms such as "is that not so?, or “I suggest to you” to lead the witness while still asking a question.


Adjust the tone and style of your cross examination to the visible responses of the judge and the witness.


The witness's response to the final question will be the last thing a judge remembers. This is the time when you want to get a key piece of evidence confirmed or a witness discredited.


Above all be firm, but polite. When you cross examines a witness, you are in charge. Don’t allow the witness to take over by saying damaging statements of his or her own. Politely request that the judge instruct the witness to only answer the questions that you direct to the witness.


There are classic tools and techniques of cross examination that I will add later.


Jim O'Neil, LL.B.

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