Experts: ever wonder about the strategy of attorneys who cross examine you? Here is some insight into how some attorneys function during cross examination. These are some notes I took when listening to an attorney describe her strategies for cross examining witnesses.
1. When an attorney makes a point favorable to his side, he locks in it (by asking a series of questions) and then leaves it alone.
2. When an attorney finds the expert disagrees with a point, he asks for a full explanation and locks it in by restating it. The the attorney will confront the expert on the stand at trial if she contradicts this testimony.
3. The attorney avoids using adverbs and adjectives that the expert will be able to qualify.
4. The attorney interrupts a non-responsive answer and asks for a “yes” or “no”. However, the judge and jury object to things being kept from them when an attorney interrupts a witness to stop an unfavorable answer.
5. The attorney chips away at the factual basis of an opinion.
6. When an expert provides a rambling answer, the attorney asks, “Does that mean no?”
7. The attorney repeats the same question more than once until the witness answers the question.
8. The attorney may avoid asking for an opinion, which the expert is not going to change.
9. The expert should avoid showing frustration. The judge and jury will notice anger or a flushed face.
10. The attorney will try to use a clear killer question at the end of the cross examination.
Learn more about testifying as an expert by purchasing our online training, Take the Terror out of Testifying. Dr. Kathleen Ashton and Mindy Cohen, two experienced legal nurse consultants shared their experiences testifying, with tips for handling this challenging role. Listen to the MP3 or read the transcript.