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? 

A: yes. 

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.