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The Really Big Mean Dog School of Law- How to Cross Examine a Witness

Did I ask you if you wanted to cover this topic ma’am-Arizona

Good evening class, take your seats, get your tablets ready and for this class please take extensive notes. Tonight’s class will cover how to cross examine a witness like a boss. Yes, you in the back, you have a question? Did I say like a boss? Are you having problems with your memory?

When a witness is on the stand there is direct examination and cross examination.

Direct Examination
The primary questioning of a witness during a trial that is conducted by the side for which that person is acting as a witness.
During the course of a direct examination, the attorney who is conducting the interrogation generally asks specific questions that provide the foundation of the case. This would be the part of the examination where all the soft ball questions are asked. We in the legal profession refer to it as the cream puff examination. There are a few Lawyers who do not adhere to the cream puff examination and treat their own witnesses like they are being cross examined instead of directly examined. See Juan Martinez.

Cross Examination

After a witness is directly examined, the opposing side conducts a cross-examination, the purpose of which is to impeach or test the validity of the testimony. Cross examination can best be described as having a liver removed sans anesthetic. The cross examinee will be battered beyond recognition if they have say told a ridiculous story with more holes in it than really good Swiss cheese. There are a very select set in the Legal Profession that are known as Pit-bull lawyers. For the purposes of this class we will use Juan Martinez as an example. If you require a dog handler and a vet with a dart gun, you are in the presence of one of these select few lawyers.

There are several things you need to know in order to conduct a fruitful cross examination. First, courtroom presence is everything. We at the Really Big Mean Dog School of Law recommend a power suit with a good tie, pacing and snarling at every possible opportunity, a look of utter contempt on your face at all times and the ability to ridicule the examinee as often as possible.

A good lawyer can effectively refute every point brought out during direct examination without even breaking a sweat. If you happen to have an Einstein-y defendant on the stand, the cross examination can actually become a source of amusement in an otherwise boring cross examination.

An effective cross examination is dependent on being able to subtly let the jury know that the defendant is a liar, a whore of epic proportions, untruthful about the state of her relationships, that the defendant thinks that her family are all idiots and if you are extremely effective, that Walmart keeps really good records.

Suggesting that the defendant has mental problems whenever it is convenient for the defendant is also an excellent tactic for a successful cross examination. If you can get a rise out of the defendant by doing that you get bonus points.

Do not be discouraged if the defendant starts out thinking they are smarter than you and trying to deflect every question with some stupid comment like it depends on how you define “now.” Continually ask the defendant if they have problems with their memory and eventually they will stop using that tactic having realized that it is not having the desired effect. If they bring up God, ask if he can be subpoena’d. Ask them if they are sure because they seem to be leaving the door open for that.

A good cross examination will result in a hundred billion side bars from opposing council. We recommend you pace yourself. Nobody wants a drunk lawyer doing a cross.

Jurors love visuals and we recommend that you pull out pictures as often as possible. Slap up pictures of the deceased at every opportunity. Show pictures of the defendants stupid relatives. Make sure the jury sees any pictures that prove the defendant is lying about having any kind of jacked up fingers. Pictures with timestamps are great. Show the defendants cooch to the jury twenty or thirty times. Make sure they all have nightmares about it. Use props. Bring in a bag of pop rocks just in case the jury doesn’t know what they are. Throw the exhibits around. Heavy ones that make a loud noise when they hit the ground are good. Show video. Video’s of the defendant swearing to god on television that they didn’t do it are excellent.

A good cross examination also always includes contempt for the opposing side. Make faces at the opposing council. Tell them if you were married to them you would want to kill yourself too. Suggest that they go back to law school since they obviously do not understand the law. Call the lead chair an idiot once or twice. Trust me, it throws them off of their game. Make fun of the fact that they have nothing better to do than file motions.

If you have done your job correctly, your witness will be a completely broken thing by the time they get off the stand. We have to get our fun somewhere don’t we?

Next class will be how to deal with “expert witnesses” or the pimple on the ass of a trial.

Class dismissed.

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11 Responses to The Really Big Mean Dog School of Law- How to Cross Examine a Witness

  1. bigmeannurse says:

    You hit the needle on the end of the plunger Prof!!!!!! Great summation of the way it should be done!

  2. Joan Soap says:

    Professor, I have read several of your lessons and thanks to you, I am ready to act as my own lawyer in the penalty phase of my trial. I can’t wait to try out my newfound lawyer skills on the Pit-bull prosecutor who is trying to send me to DR. I will show him who of the two of us is the smartie pants legal eagle now, ha!!!!

  3. Deb says:

    Joan, you go girl!!! And, uhm…have you designated who gets your notebook, school supplies, & special seat in the back of the classroom, next to the window – just in case we never see you again?

  4. Ripley in CT says:

    You lost me at “creampuff”

    • reallybigmeandog says:

      Ripley, I don’t know what you thought I meant, but what deb said I meant is what I meant. Is there another meaning for creampuff other than the pastry that I am unaware of?

    • Deb says:

      Ripley, I now see that you have a dry sense of humor too! 🙂 Sometimes that’s hard to see, right off the bat; happens to me too…

  5. Deb says:

    Ripley, “creampuff” denotes taking it easy on your own witnesses during a direct examination…but Juanderful asks direct questions and in a stern manner even when he is performing a ‘direct examination’ of his own witnesses. Nurmi and his sidekick tend to molly-coddle their witnesses…talking in soft tones, smiling, laughing, etc.

    • reallybigmeandog says:

      Deb: Thanks for answering for me, just saw this and I was very confused for a moment. What the hell else does creampuff mean? If I have somehow said something that isn’t an acceptable term I apologize to Ripley, but it’s a pastry or a soft touch approach to your own witnesses.

      • Ripley in CT says:

        Easy there, darlin’…you’re one my faves. I’ve followed the arias debacle since the start, which is how I tripped upon your blog, what seems like an eternity ago. I suppose I could have been more specific, as I forget people might not understand my variety of “humor”. Mayhaps next time. In the meanwhile, know I’m one of the good guys. And I surely understand what creampuff means….be it the pastry, the interrogation style, or my 1965 Buick 🙂

      • reallybigmeandog says:

        sorry Ripley I just did not have any idea what you meant and thought I offended you.

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