Trial lawyers will often tell you that it took them time to be good at cross-examination. Though many think it’s a dramatic battle, cross-examination is an opportunity for a lawyer to build a client’s case using the opponent's witness statements.

However, things may take an ugly turn when the lawyer you hired is not good at cross-examinations. This is why you need to hire professionals like the criminal defense attorneys at Chudnovsky Law, who can help you before and during cross-examination to increase the chances of its effectiveness.

Here are some techniques that can be used:

1. Establish Goals for Each Witness

Not all witnesses need cross-examination. If cross-examining a witness will not add any value to a client’s case, then your lawyer should avoid it. But if the cross-examination will build the case, then you should know the goals before it starts.

Knowing what you want from a witness will dictate the road you take with them during cross-examination. This will pave the way to laying out a strategy like leading questions based on a thorough review of the witness testimony at trial and the relevant admissible evidence.

2. Structure Questions to Box in the Witness

The tenet of cross-examination is that you should ask questions so that you know the answers. When you master this, you may force a witness to testify about facts that add value to your client’s case. However, how you convey your question is what will help you achieve the goal.

During cross-examination, you should ask leading questions. This way, the questions nudge witnesses to what you want to hear and also limit their ability to explain their statements or answers.

They also cross-examine facts only, and not opinions. Most of the time, opinions differ from one person to the next and facts do not.

3. Use Constructive and Deconstructive Cross-Examination Strategically

Constructive and deconstructive are strategies used in cross-examination. Use constructive to build on your client’s theory case and deconstructive to damage the credibility of a witness. Also, know that each case is unique and requires a different approach.

4. Know the Witnesses’ Prior Testimony

Photorealistic lawyer day celebration

The first technique to nub a witness is knowing their prior statement and admissible evidence. This way, it will elicit the testimony you are seeking. So, when cross-examining the witness, you will have had a review of the deposition testimony, relevant admissible evidence, and trial testimony to get an opportunity to damage the witness’s credibility or build your client’s case, whether it’s a drug or theft case.

If a witness answers your question in a conflicting manner based on the prior testimony or evidence, then you will have to reassert control by holding them to the prior evidence or testimony.

5. Be Cool with Uncooperative Witnesses

Though you may prepare strategically to execute a cross-examination, some witnesses may not be cooperative enough to give a yes or no answer. Instead, they may start to challenge you. If they do so, be cool not to lose your credibility.

When the witness starts to be stubborn, stay calm and professional and challenge them by maintaining eye contact. Interrupt them politely, remind them of the question, and tell them to give a yes or no answer instead of acting evasive. If they are still not cooperating, you may ask the judge politely to instruct them to answer the question the right way.

Final Thoughts

Stakes are usually high with cross-examination; it may break or build your case. However, having the right strategy, preparation, and execution may positively impact your case. Consider using tools to succeed as a key aspect of preparation to build a winning strategy.

Also, the witness should be well-researched and have all the necessary knowledge before getting into the courtroom. Contact an experienced attorney to help you with the cross-examination.