Memory

Sometimes, you catch a witness testifying so vaguely on details and so similarly to their statement or police report that it seems like the witness has no independent recollection of the events.  A killer cross examination can expose this witness’ attempt to testify without an adequate memory or recollection.

In a recent drug case, I caught a police officer doing just that — repeating what was in his report and failing to offer any significant details other than those referenced in his police report.  I sensed that he had no recollection of the even and instead was just testifying from his report.  Here is how I exposed his lack of memory:

Q: officer, are you testifying from memory or from your report?
A: memory.
Q: you sure that you have an independent memory of the incident?
A: yes.
Q: what was the type of door?
A: i don’t know.
Q: what color was it?
A: I don’t know
Q: were there windows on it?
A: i don’t know recall
Q: what was the floor material?
A: I don’t recall
Q: what were the walls made of?
A: I don’t recall
Q: what was the layout?
A: I don’t recall
Q: how many jars were there?
A: I don’t recall. many.
Q: what is many … help us out please?
A: I don’t know. maybe 20
Q: where was my client when he was ordered to the ground?
A: he was ordered to ground.
Q: you saw it?
A: yes.
Q: where?
A: I don’t recall.

By probing and not being afraid of his answers, I exposed that he had no independent memory of the event.  During this cross examination, I exposed this officer and his colleagues in other ways too.  All were crippling to their credibility.  Stay tuned for more stories from this cross examination.