The use of appropriate cross-examination techniques is necessary because a witness’ credibility can easily be brought into question if he or she is unable to recall certain facts that have been asked. For example, it would be very ineffective for a lawyer to ask a witness to determine the time that a telephone call was made if the caller cannot remember whether or not the phone call took place at all. The same would be true if the lawyer were to try to get the witness to say something other than what the client wants the witness to say. Such techniques as asking follow-up questions, eliciting witnesses’ prior knowledge, making negative statements, confusing statements, and asking irrelevant questions are all techniques that will fail to bring any credibility to a witness’ testimony. It should be noted that the latter techniques will certainly not work well if the witness has already indicated that he or she will cooperate with the cross examination.
Therefore, the key to successful cross-examinations is having the appropriate tools to make them effective. One of the best tools for effective cross-examinations is preparation. A law firm should make a habit of taking care of any preparations needed before any examination techniques are employed. A good cross-examination law definition further describes the importance of proper preparations: “A lawyer may never prepare for a cross-examination unless he has first made sure that the witness is reliable.”
Preparation in this regard means the hiring of an expert, like an investigator, who will assist the lawyer in preparing for examination. The professional employed by the firm to do this is known as a cross-expert. There is really no difference between an investigator and a cross-expert. The only difference is that the former is more experienced in this type of legal work, while the latter does not have an extensive amount of experience in this area. The cross-expert may use his or her skills and expertise to provide certain kinds of information that will increase the likelihood that the client’s attorney will obtain favorable findings as a result of the cross-examination.
The other important tool in preparing for a cross-examination is a quality set of legal research tools. This tool will include a large number of different books, magazines, and online resources that deal with the subject matter the lawyer is planning to cross examine. Most law firms have a large library of the most relevant literature they could possibly find on the topic that their client will be represented on. Additionally, many lawyers have extensive collections of cross-examining study guides and other such material. It is always wise to consult these materials prior to a meeting with the cross-expert.
The types of questions that cross-examiners are likely to ask depend on a number of factors. It is important for the lawyer practicing his or her craft to develop an appropriate list of possible questions. A good starting list of possible questions includes: Have you heard that? What does this mean? Why is that true?
The effectiveness of a lawyer’s cross-examinations largely depends on how well he or she prepares. A lawyer’s preparation also depends on the cross-examinant. For example, if the lawyer has not personally examined the defendant, then it is likely that the lawyer’s cross-examinations will be less thorough. Likewise, if the lawyer has personally examined the defendant and the client has provided him or her with faulty information or misinformation, then the lawyer’s cross-examination will be more contentious. A lawyer can obtain useful information about a client’s legal issues by reading his or her court records or looking up case law on the Internet. However, if a lawyer has never seen the defendant in question, then he or she should consider asking the clerk of court to conduct the cross-examination.
There are a number of resources available on the Internet that help lawyers prepare for depositions. Some websites provide comprehensive training on how to conduct cross-examinations effectively. Others provide a detailed list of typical legal questions. Still others provide simple guidelines for preparing a successful cross-examination. Regardless of which resources a lawyer uses when conducting a cross-examination, the goal remains the same: to present the facts of the case to the cross examiner in such a way as to help the jury to form their own opinion about the subject matter.