Always treat witnesses with respect and politeness.
Your questions should be
- Seek 1 fact at a time
Remember that: 1 question, 1 fact. Always.
Don’t be embarrassed by silence.
Don’t go “um”, “arh” etc.
Don’t say “ok” or “right” to the answers.
Don’t use fill-ins like “and” or “so”.
1 question, 1 fact.
Cross examination-9 rules
Before you start, ask yourself if you have to do it. Don’t do it if you can avoid it.
- Think commando-it’s a raid, not a siege. Get in and out. 1 question, 1 fact. Get what you want and need. Every question invites disaster to your case.
- When you have what you want, stop. Remember, you are looking to bolster your closing speech.
- Don’t ask a question to something to which you do not know the answer. Cross-examination is about getting the decision maker to see the case from your point of view.
- Always ask leading questions. Never ask an open question.
- Never ask a witness to explain. Never ask ‘why?’
- Do not ask conclusionary questions of the witness. Keep your commentary for your closing submission.
- Never ask the witness for help.
- Ask only 1 thing at a time.
- You bounce your case off the witness. It does not matter that he disagrees. Be polite, now rows. Look for the lever-the evidential inconsistency which will allow you to pull the evidential trap door on the witness.
Credit to Iain Morley Q.C. and his excellent “spry polemic”, The Devil’s Advocate.