Look up. Listen. Hear. Think. React.
“Killer cross examination” requires that the cross examiner do each of these things while questioning the witness.
- Look up: take your eyes off your notepad. Look at the witness. What is he doing? How is he acting?
- Listen: as you watch the witness, listen to his answers. Not just the parts where he answers your questions but joe about what he’s not saying or stopped himself from saying?
- Hear: feel what he is trying to say or implying?
- Think: actually process what is happening in the moment. In real time.
- React: don’t be afraid to use the information that you’ve gathered in real time to challenge the witness. You’re likely right…try it.
As an example, this exchange just happened in a cross examination that I conducted:
Q: his speech wasn’t slurred?
A: it was hard for me to tell because it was obvious that he was … I couldn’t …
Here was some active listening and hearing…the witness was about to say something and then stopped himself…I caught it and wanted to follow up. I had an idea he was going to step into something huge.
Q: hold on… You were about to say something. You were about to say obvious that he was and then stopped yourself?
Q: finish your thought…it was obvious that he was what?
A: an Arab.
Boom. He didn’t want to say this but now because I was listening and hearing and thinking, he had. He was done.
Q: you could tell he was an Arab just by looking at him?
A: yes. Can’t you?
Q: I don’t judge people in thay way. What about him?
A: you know, just the way he looks.
Q: no, I don’t. His hair? Eyes? Skin? What?
A: all of it.
At about this point, the prosecutor objected but it was too late. His prejudice had been exposed. How? I looked up, listened, heard, thought and reacted.