A theme can make all the difference between a rayood cross examination and a killer cross examination. Our them was “actions speak louder than words.” This is the story of the cross examination of a seasoned officer based on a theme of “actions speak louder than words.”
The hearing in the racketeering case began on a Tuesday. The prosecutor, a seasoned veteran of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, was going to hang his proverbial hat on the testimony of a single witness: a veteran police officer who was the Drug Task Force Director of a neighboring county. For days, five lawyers, Matt Newburg, Michael Komorn, Paul Tylenda, Noel Erinjeri and I sat in court each questioning witnesses and our own clients attempting to show the unfairness of our client’s arrest and prosecution. One by one, our client’s took the stand and each told their story as best they could. Each time one finished, the prosecution would cross examine the client’s aggressively. In the end, we all knew that the case would boil down to one (1) witness, a retired officer. It was obvious that the case would boil down to a credibility contest between our client and the officer.
Before the officer testified, I questioned the officer in charge. By the time I finished questioning the trooper, we had laid the groundwork to show the officer’s testimony was likely to be untruthful and that the state was too quickly and without appropriate caution embracing the officer’s claims. The officer was denying, wholeheartedly, that he had sanctioned and advised our clients that their business was legal and in compliance with the law. Prior to the officer testifying, one prosecutor assisting the prosecution was so concerned about the officer’s testimony that he spent time prepping the officer, e.g., showing him photographs, emails and other items that had been admitted in the days proceeding. By the time the officer appeared for testify, the prosecution was advising each other that “he’ll be golden”, “[the officer’s] going to kill it”, etc.
After the prosecution finished its direct examination, I stood to cross examine the officer. I decided to separate his current statements in court and those made to the police from his actions at the relevant period of time. I would compare his words now and his actions then. Soon, the officer admitted that actions speak louder than words and we examined his actions. His actions and inaction would prove his downfall. I ended my cross examination by pointing out that the way he described the relationship between my client, the reputed racketeer and drug dealer, and himself: professional, courteous and decent. The way the officer described it, it remind me of a scene from Looney Tunes:
Stay tuned as we go deeper into the “actions speak louder than words” cross examination of this retired officer.