I’ve always preached that you have to be “in the moment” when cross examining a witness. While its okay to have notes and an outline, you must listen to the witness in real time and react to what he/she says. In a recent case in which I cross examined an informant, the witness let slip a single word, “we” during my cross examination of him. This single word revealed just how biased he was. More importantly, I caught it because I was listening and I used it as a dagger against him and the state:
Notice how he uttered the word “we” while trying to explain something:
… they have a protocol just like we did
I heard it and I pounced:
Q: When you say “we”, you’re referring to the police department?
Q: The people you were working with?
Q: You’re (sic) partners in this case?
With the utterance of a single word, “we”, I got the witness to admit that he and the police were partners. Partners!
This was only possible because I was listening to the testimony and reacting in real time. This is killer cross examination.