Part 8 – Conducting the Actual Cross-Examination
In this 8-part blog series, we have explored tips for preparing an effective cross-examination of trucking safety experts.
Last week, we discussed the importance of strategically structuring your cross-examination. This week, and to wrap up this blog series, we discuss conducting the actual cross examination.
It would be impractical to attempt to go over all of the rules for cross-examination in this blog series; however, from our perspective, there are nine basic steps that will allow you to conduct an effective cross-examination of the Plaintiff’s safety expert:
1. Establish control early. Let the expert know that you now the case better than anybody in the courtroom.
2. Let the expert know that you have his or her number. Ask questions like, “I have read 46 of your prior depositions, and isn’t it true that _________?” Or, “I will be asking you questions where I will use your actual testimony from 46 other cases in which you have testified.” And be ready to point them to page and line if they test you – because they will.
3. Ask only leading questions.
4. Granulate your questions down so they focus on One. Fact. At. A. Time.
5. Remember that you are the one testifying. The expert is simply agreeing with you.
6. You want the jury watching and listening to you.
7. Done well, the expert witness will simply be affirming your “testimony.”
8. Use transition words and phrases to allow the jury to follow you. “My first area of questioning for you Mr. Smith will focus on your work as a Plaintiff’s safety expert for the last 28 years.” Or, “I want to leave this area and move on to my second area of questioning and that is the assumptions and foundations of your report.”
9. Start strong. Take your lumps in the middle of the cross-examination. And end even stronger.