Tag Archive for: criminal defense

Patience, My Friend – How Being Patient, Actively Listening And Cornering A Witness Reveals A Lie

Be patient, son.

How many times have I heard that phrase in my life?  How many times have I said that to others?  Many.  Likely too many to recall and too many to count.  Yes, patience is a virtue but I’m not a patient person.  However, a killer cross examination requires patience and more — it requires active listening in real time and then doggedly pursuing every attempt a witness may take to evade the question.  Some key points of this discussion:

  • be patient;
  • keep moving forward toward your goal;
  • knock down down attempts to pass like a tennis player approaching the net;
  • be relentless; and,
  • eventually, you’ll cut off the witness, leaving him nowhere to go but to answer the question.

In a killer cross examination, if you follow the above rules, what happens during the cross examination is remarkable — while ultimately getting to the goal of the cross examination, the examiner will also expose the witness as an evasive and argumentative witness.  This is a killer cross examination.

Take a look at this recent cross examination in which I cross examined a detective that took interrogated our client and made some exaggerated claims to our client during the interrogation, claims that were designed to convince our client to confess.

First, the detective told our client during an interrogation that he had researched the topic of x-rays and the procedures involved.  This was a lie that I wanted to expose:

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The detective equivocated so I forged ahead, patient but relentless:

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Notice how he starts to backtrack and stammer.  His claim that he had researched x-ray procedures and talked to professionals quickly becomes something informal and imprecise.  Notice how the detective tries to answer the question about “naming” the professionals with something else, i.e., information about procedures and processes that he thinks will hurt my client.

I was patient.  I continued moving forward asking him about his official investigation.  He must’ve realized that he was in trouble and now he’s backtracking, flailing his arms and equivocating.  Notice how I don’t bite — “its either a part of your investigation or not?”:

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Not only was I proving that he had lied to our client but do to his answers, he was proving himself to be untruthful.  Quite honestly, he’d have been better saying, “I lied to your client” rather than this smorgasbord of answers.  The killer cross examination exposes this evasiveness — focusing on each effort at being evasive as we march towards our original goal.

In the interrogation of our client, he claimed that he had talked to “x ray people” but a moment ago, he said it was only a “person” so I pursued that difference:

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Notice how unbelievable his answers are:  people vs person, lack of memory of the month, lack of memory of the day and nothing notated in his reports.  I intended to damage his credibility but this damage is self-inflicted.  Of course, when a witness is willing inflict more damage on himself, I’m going to let them.

I start to tie his non-answers and contradictions together to make the point:

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Notice how he continues to backtrack.  He tries to deny it was research but is trapped with his own words.  Caught, he dives into the answer head first — like a guy jumping on a grenade:  “I was satisfied with it.”  So I reminded him of the original topic, his lie about “research”:

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I could’ve let it end there but his self-serving explanation that he’s trying to be forthright can’t stand.  Its obvious that he’s not but I wanted to underscore the point.  I keep turning up the heat, exposing the evasiveness and using his evasive answers against him:

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As you can see, my patient and persistence was paying off.  He has characterized his “research” as a nearly happenstance encounter with someone in the hallway.  I take his answers and tie them to what he did and did not tell our client.  Notice that where in the beginning, I had a point to make about “research” he has now given us more than just a lie about “research” but a series of contradictory, nonsensical, evasive answers.

In the end, notice how on one topic, whether he actually lied to our client about doing “research” in to x-ray positions, he refused to concede that he in fact lied or overstated that fact.  It would have been a bit painful for him but the cross would’ve exposed that one point and only that one point but he would’ve gotten credit or scored some points for being “honest” and admitting his shortcoming.  Rather than doing that, he tried to evade and argue — kind of like someone trying to thrust and parry while falling down in a losing match.

As you can see, I was determined, persistent and patient in getting to my objective on cross examination.  Along the way, I capitalized on his evasiveness and combativeness.  By following these techniques and samples, you too can conduct a killer cross examination of a critical witness — just be patient.

A Comment On My Cross Examination Style

Killer Cross Examination.  Yes, that is my style. Not fire breathing. Not screaming. Not pounding the table. Real, methodical, surgical cross examination that points out the lack of candor by a witness.  This is what people think of when they they think of a killer cross examination:


This is what a killer cross really looks like:


Chess playing. Strategizing. Planning.  Laying traps. You get the point.

A client of ours recently watched us utilize these skills to dissect witnesses that testified against her. She was vindicated. Here is description of our cross:


Killer Cross Examination.

“Actions Speak Louder Than Words” – A Recent Killer Cross Examination – “The Cross of Gray”

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:

Sam_and_Ralph_clock

Stay tuned as we go deeper into the “actions speak louder than words” cross examination of this retired officer.

If A Cop Could Tap Out During Cross Examination – This Was That Time

Ronda Rousey is famous for her ability to quickly force a victory by submission in professional mixed martial arts fighting.

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Getting opponents to tap out, i.e., submit and quit, is quite an accomplishment and Rousey has it down to both a science and an art form.  The tap out, i.e., sign of submission, is just that — a literal “tapping” of the fingers or hand.

Some police officers, during a killer cross examination by yours truly, have clearly wanted to tap out or submit.  At some point in the cross examination, I can sense when a witness wants to tap out, if only there was some way to do so.

We recently tried (to jury) a drunk driving case in which the police officer, undoubtedly, wanted to tap out.  Some cross examinations produce one, two, maybe three good exchanges between the examiner and the witness but this cross examination was relentless — the officer at one point looking like he wanted to tap out.  Take a peak at how in each series we setup the so-called submission move, i.e, the powerful moments where the witness is admitting that his prior testimony was incorrect, he erred, he was lazy/made assumptions or is undermining his case.  Imagine him sitting there, not knowing when it will end and wishing for a way to make it stop, i.e., to tap out.

The Driver

At the scene of the stop, our client claimed that another man was driving the car and had left prior to the officer arriving.  The officer attempted to suggest that he searched for records of the other individual.  That didn’t go well:

Q:  how’d you spell the last name that you looked up?
A:  multiple ways.
Q:  tell me.
A:  (cop does one)
Q:  others.
A:  (cop does one more)
Q:  wouldn’t a way to see if the accused has a friend or connection named that be to check Facebook for a Facebook friend?
A:  I suppose.
Q:  if he has a friend with a name like that, wouldn’t a way to see whether or not you got the name correct to check Facebook?
A:  yes.
Q:  you didn’t check.
A:  no.
Q:  when you ran [that name] through CLEMIS or LIEN and claimed that nothing showed up, you’re purpose was to suggest to the jury that this person doesn’t exist?
A:  attempting to suggest that there’s been no driver, nobody came forward.
Q:  that’s not the defense’s responsibility, to prove a defense, is it?
A: no.

As bad as that sounds, it only gets worse:

Q:  The quality of the search of the name is only as good as the names you type in?
A:  Correct.
Q:  you’ve heard of garbage in, garbage out?
A:  we’ve seen one in another in court on this case before right?
Q:  you never once asked me how the name of the driver was spelled, did you?
A: no.
Q:  you made an assumption about the name?
A: I used what I heard and what I —
Q:  What you heard?
A:  what I heard on the video?
Q:  so if you heard it wrong that means that the name you looked up is wrong?
A: correct.
Q:  so your search doesn’t tell us very much does it?
A: correct.

At this point, I recall the officer looking around as though he wanted to be anywhere else.  However, this exchange was within the first 6 pages of my cross examination of the officer.  In other words, this was the beginning.

The House Was Dark

The officer also tried to testify that when he pulled up, all of the lights were off in my client’s house and thus, he concluded, that our client had not come from his house to his car to get something but instead had just returned from driving.  Like the subject of the name of the driver, this cross examination section was devastating to the officer’s credibility.  While “Gotcha” moments rarely happen in court, we produced one here.

In order to pull off what you’re about to read, you must thoroughly prepare to cross examine the police officer.  I don’t mean “read the police reports” but rather, you have to think about each strand of the officer’s claims and examine them from different angles and different perspectives asking:

  • is this true?
  • could be this an an exaggeration?
  • how could this wrong?
  • is this an assumption?
  • etc.

When the officer claimed that there were no lights on in the house, I was curious if that was true.  I imagined a moment in which I could show lights on in the house … I thought how devastating this would be the state’s case:  a true “gotcha” moment.  I planned.

First, I watched the video carefully and at a painstakingly slow speed.  After multiple frame by frame segments, I saw it … the house and a light on inside.  Second, I noted the time.  Third, I took multiple still photos from the video program itself, from my computer still photograph program and with other devices.  Fourth, I identified every possible landmark I could and pointed to them with an indicator.  Last, I took daytime photos to show the same angles and landmarks.   My plan, unfurl this examination piece by piece so that the officer was trapped and forced to reveal that he was wrong and had made a devastating and prejudicial assumption.  To the person watching, it would have seemed like I was just up there talking to the cop about this stuff but this was the product of a plan and the execution of the plan:

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When I question the officer about which house was the accused’s, you’ll notice him fight and obfuscate a bit.  I don’t mind at all … to me, he is walking right into the cross examination trap that we’ve laid out for him.

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Because he tried to suggest that “he didn’t know” which house it was, we start identify landmarks for him to “assist” him and to show the jury that he is not being forthright.IMG_0004

At this point, using our exhibits, I attempt to identify several landmarks for the officer:IMG_0005 IMG_0006

As you observed, I continued to use our exhibits to identify the house for the officer and jury.  We identified two ceramic, distinctive and unique lawn ornaments and zeroed in on those and the house between them and as you’ll see, the cross comes together at this point.  The evidence is undeniable and devastating:  the house between the lawn ornaments (the balls) is the accused’s house and …. there is a light on in the house.  Which leads to the final questions:  there was a light on in the accused’s house and that he was wrong about the absence of a light.IMG_0007

That’s a light on in the house you’ve identified as [the accused’s] house, isn’t it? Here is the answer —

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The cross examination continued past this point but the killer cross examination approach had already won the case.   The witness made assertions and those assertions turned out to be wrong and, worse, were proven wrong before the jury.  Just as Rousey does in her matches, she goes for a submission early on and is typically successful.  This is no accident.  My killer cross examination did the same … if the officer could have tapped out then, he would have.  Several hours later, when the proofs were in, the jury did it for him and found our client not guilty.

Finishing A Cross Examination With “Zing”, Vince Colella Nails A Cross Examination

Vince Colella is one of the finest, most thoughtful and aggressive personal injury lawyers that I know.  He loves good cross examination and is a proponent of killer cross examination, my style of cross examination. He shared a story of a recent cross examination with me in which he used an opposing lawyer’s attempt to badger a witness about poor record keeping as the backdrop for his client’s claims.  According to Colella, the insurance lawyer did such a thorough job of beating up a witness that the only person left that could testify, offer exhibits and prove the amount of work that his client performed was his client.   In short, per Colella, he was able to use the opponent’s tactics to “zing” the lawyer’s client (an insurance company) and to make his client’s case stronger.

The Case

Colella has a client who was involved in an auto accident. He made a claim to the vehicle owner’s insurance company, State Farm (SF), for wage loss.  Colella’s client worked as an independent contractor for a general contracting company (General Contractor) that did home restorations for bank foreclosed properties.  State Farm disputed the wage loss claim and accused the client of producing fraudulent documents pertaining to the jobs he worked, ie, 1099’s, etc. 

In an effort to develop their defense, State Farm issued a subpoena to the General Contractor and requested that he bring all of the documentation related to the client’s work, pay, financials, etc.  Like many small business owners, the General Contractor is a poor record-keeper.   In response to the subpoena, the General Contractor appeared without the documentation.  The General Contractor testified that he had 30 – 40 independent contractors doing odd jobs and that he did not document each and every one of them.  He also testified that he “probably” issued work orders, 1099’s and payment receipts, however, he did not keep all of the records for the client’s file.

At this point, the State Farm lawyer attempted to pounce on the witness, the General Contractor.   Pursuing a style of cross examination that I do not advocate, i.e., the aggressive, “ballistic” style of examination that some people associate with trial lawyers but is largely ineffective, the State farm lawyer starts badgering the General Contractor about his poor record keeping.  The State Farm lawyer begins to insinuate, through her examination, that if the General Contractor did not have the documentation, it is not due to poor record-keeping but rather something more sinister — that Colella’s client did not perform the work.  This is quite a bold suggestion but the State Farm lawyer continues to insinuate and assert this position through her questioning.

Patiently watching the State Farm lawyer browbeat the General Contractor, Colella saw that his strategy was working:  the insurance lawyer looked like she was beating up on an everyday businessperson being dragged into a lawsuit that he wanted nothing to do with.  Additionally, Colella could see the light at the end of the tunnel and at the conclusion of the insurance company’s lawyer, he sprung two questions on the General Contractor, the questions that he knew patiently awaited him as long as the opposing lawyer beat up the General Contractor to the point that he could not offer any sound evidence or proof of his client’s work.  Colella knew one thing for sure — his client kept meticulous records of his work and so after watching the insurance lawyer destroy any chance that the General Contractor could refute his client’s records and testimony, Colella sprung the trap:

Colella: “Sir, I gather from the 2 hours of testimony today, that you are a poor record keeper, true?
Deponent: Yes sir.
Colella: So, if you didn’t maintain these records, then I assume that my client is in the best position to verify the work that he performed and the payments he received, true?
Deponent: Yes sir.”
Colella: No further questions.

By understanding that his opponent would attempt to destroy the General Contractor, Colella knew that his client would be the only witness left standing to be able to prove how much he had worked.  Moreover, Colella knew that the insurance lawyer would attempt to damage the General Contractor’s credibility and record-keeping so badly that she would leave no room for the witness to refute his client’s records that proved the amount that he had worked.

How did Colella know that this would happen?  He’s battled insurance company lawyers for years and knows that rather than approach the witness with understanding that perhaps as a small business owner he is a poor record keeper, she reverted to her default, the witness was lying and that his client was lying.  Had she been more understanding, perhaps the General Contractor would not have responded as willingly as he did to Colella’s final “zinger” but he anticipated that the insurance company lawyer could not resist going after the witness.  Because she did, Colella was able to conclude the examination with some “Zing” and turn the General Contractor into a strong witness for not only his client but his client’s record keeping.

Vince Colella is a personal injury trial attorney with Moss & Colella in Southfield, Michigan.  He is acknowledged to be among the Nation’s Top One Percent of lawyers and has been named a Super Lawyer among his many awards.  Colella handles personal injury cases (www.lawyerswhowin.com) and civil rights injury cases, e.g., employment discrimination, police brutality, etc. (www.detroitcivilrights.com).

Attorney Comments On Neil Rockind’s Cross Examination Of A Police Officer In Trial – Calls It “Classic”

UPDATE: the trial at issue resulted in an acquittal for our client:  he was acquitted of all charges, including Aggravated Assault and Assault and Battery.   Here are pictures of the complainant so that the reader can appreciate what we were up against:

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In a hotly contested Aggravated Assault trial presently underway, veteran trial attorney Michael Hohauser has been intently observing the proceedings.  As trial started, Hohauser watched each step Neil Rockind took in the case.  Rockind is defending the accused and it will be Hohauser’s job to defend the same gentleman in a civil case that has been filed in which the complainant is seeking monetary damages.  Hohauser watched Rockind’s opening statement and his cross examinations of the three (3) witnesses to date:  the complainant, the complainant’s wife and the arresting officer.  During each and at times, the judge interfered sustaining some objections raised by the prosecutor and one time raising an objection sua sponte.  As Hohauser said, “you handled the judge perfectly.” Rockind never raised his voice to the judge and never let on how one-sided the judge appeared to be.   Rockind remained calm and continued undaunted.  After watching Rockind use the killer cross examination approach to examining the officer, a cross examination that will be shared here in full when the case is over, Hohauser had this to say about what he saw:

Yes I was Neil. It was classic. You brought it in perfectly. I was so busy watching you and the officer I didn’t notice if the jury was alert.

The cross examination was so compelling and the observer so drawn in, that his attention was focused on nothing else.  That is the best compliment that a trial attorney could receive from another trial attorney.

Neil Rockind (242)

Textbook Cross Of The Interrogating Detective | Several Lawyers Have Called This Cross “Brilliant” And Insisted On Publication

Sometimes, a cross examination of a witness flows so smoothly, is so powerful and so totally destroys the witness’s testimony that even the opposing side is left in awe.  Most lawyers never accomplish such a cross examination.  Some of the top lawyers, experience this feat several times.  The best of the best know this feeling well — this is the high bar that they set for themselves.  In a drug case that Rockind Law is still litigating, the prosecution called a witness to the stand to testify to our client’s supposedly incriminating and contradictory statements made during a police interrogation.   My cross examination was so compelling that one of the prosecutors when it was over, pulled me aside and paid me a compliment.  That same prosecutor same something similar in our last hearing.  When I said, “you weren’t smirking during that cross examination”, he responded and said, “No, I most certainly was not.”   My co-counsel in the case ordered the transcript and have repeatedly referred to it as a “masterpiece”, “masterful”, “best ever”, “textbook” and the “cross that young lawyers should have to read.”   I can’t tell you whether it was worth that amount of praise, but I remember it and I have to say, as an aficionado of cross examination, I appreciated my own work  on this one.

Take a look.  Take a read.  Let me know what you think.   Click on the Cross Examination Transcript to read the entire cross for yourself.

Rockind Textbook X Photo

Rockind Textbook X

Catching A Snitch (Jailhouse Informant) In A Lie

Jailjouse informants.  Every criminal defense lawyer in a major case in which his/her client is in custody in jail fears one of these low-lifes coming out of the woodwork.  These informants seek favor from the police and government by offering testimony against someone with a case pending.  They are sketchy, unreliable and unfortunately, dangerous witnesses.  Too often, juries rest guilty verdicts on these witnesses.  Too often lawyers do a poor job of cross examining these informants.  In the case of Mark Lundy, charged with murdering his wife and daughter, a jailhouse informant materialized out of thin air.   The witness claimed that Lundy said he would’ve got away with what he’d done, if his daughter hadn’t walked in and seen what he was doing to his wife.

The witness also claimed that Lundy told him he’d been planning what he did for some time, and “she had it coming to her”.  One part of Lundy’s lawyer’s cross examination of the informant caught our attention at KillerCrossExamination.com.

The informant testified that he met Lundy while they were in the segregation wing of a prison, in 2002.  He’s told the court he got chatting to Lundy while in the prison yard.  According to the informant, Lundy told him that he was waiting for an appeal to go through, but didn’t explain it.

Lundy’s lawyer seized on some information that he obtained from an investigation into the informant’s background, e.g., a probation report that referred to the informant as “manipulative” and aggressive when doesn’t get his own way.  The witness could hardly deny what was in the report.  And then, using the “manipulative” reference, the lawyer went to work on a glaring hole in the witness’s story:  that Lundy said he was on appeal while in the yard.  Why?  Lundy was not on appeal.  

Lundy’s lawyer, using a bit of killer cross examination, pulled some jail records and noted that the informant and Lundy were jailed together before his first trial and thus before any appeal.

“He wouldn’t have been waiting for an appeal because he hadn’t even been convicted,” he says.

Witness X replied, “he told me he was waiting for an appeal”.

Lundy’s lawyer then used the probation report to impeach the witness:

“Are you being manipulative again,” pressed Burns.

“No,” Witness X replied.

Meticulous attention to detail and a thorough investigation into the informant’s background is required in order to pull off a killer cross examination.  Some lawyers think that we just stide up to the podium or lectern in a courtroom and outwit the witness “off the cuff”.  They are wrong.  Conducting a killer cross examination requires skill, talent and wit, that is of course true, but it also requires something additional:  preparation.  Lundy’s lawyer likely neutralized this witness by obtaining information about the witness’ past, constructing a timeline and then reviewing that timeline against the facts.

Neil Rockind is a criminal defense lawyer with Rockind Law, a criminal defense trial firm in Southfield, Michigan.  Rockind has won virtually every award and accolade available to lawyers, including, Top Lawyer, Super Lawyer, Top 100, Top 50, Top 10, Leading Lawyer, Legals Finest and a Leader in the Law.  The Detroit Legal News referred to Rockind as “Tenacious”.  Laws.com characterized Rockind as someone who fights for the underdog.  Rockind is the Channel 4-WDIV (NBC) local television analyst/expert.  Rockind handles drug, alcohol related, white collar and assault type cases in and around the state of Michigan and in federal court.  He is the author of killercrossexamination.com. 

Straight Answers — The Line That Helped A Great Personal Injury Lawyer Depose A Tough Doctor

“Are you going to give me straight answers?”  A rather simple question, right?   Opposing experts in civil and criminal cases often do anything but give straight answers.  Long, twisted, curvy and evasive answers are what experts typically give to lawyers cross examining them.  How to tackle the problem?  A colleague of mine, Vince Colella of Moss & Colella,  LawyersWhoWin.com and DetroitCivilRights.com, is one of the finest personal injury lawyers in Michigan.  He is so dedicated and talented, that he has been named a Super Lawyer, a prestigious honor bestowed on only the top 5% of all lawyers in Michigan.  Recently, Vince Colella approached me to discuss a trial deposition that he was preparing for involving a particularly feisty and difficult doctor.   The doctor was being called as an expert witness by the opposing side, the insurance company.  After a few minutes of discussion, I suggested starting the deposition with a simple question — one that would catch the expert off guard and unprepared:

Are you going to give me straight answers?

You see, depositions typically begin the same way:  lawyers asking background questions, questions about the expert’s experience, work, etc.  It provides the lawyer with information but it also gives the expert a chance to get in a groove, warm up and get comfortable.  Vince elected to take a different approach.  He elected, a few questions into the deposition, to pop the question:

Are you going to give me straight answers?

The goal being to confront the expert with that stark question.  We prepared for the expert’s possible responses.  If he hemmed and hawed, Vince could challenge him right then after all, why wouldn’t he agree to just give straight answers?  Vince even planned to write it out on a sheet paper, once the expert agreed.   Whenever the expert started to go sideways, he would ask the question again using the prior commitment:

I thought you were you going to give me straight answers?

He might even use the sheet of paper.  After a while, we figured, the expert would see Vince reaching for the sheet of paper and know that he was about to get whacked.  He left to put it into action.

After the deposition, Vince returned to the office and reported back how successful this simple tactic was.  Vince asked the expert the question, “Are you going to give me straight answers?” early in the deposition, earlier than expected, and the doctor responded:  “I’ll try.”   Vince told me that he smiled at hearing that — “why would one have to try to give straight answers,” he said he thought.   But he soldiered on and periodically, the expert would attempt to offer some rubbery answer to which, Vince asked:

I thought you were going to try to give me straight answers?

After only a few incidents of having to remind the expert about his commitment to try and give straight answers, Vince relayed that the expert was controllable and manageable and that the deposition not only didn’t hurt Vince’s case but actually helped.

Sometimes doing the unorthodox or unconventional makes all the difference in the world.  This time Vince delivered a killer cross examination with one question:

Are you going to give me straight answers?

About Vince Colella

Vince Colella is a personal injury, civil rights attorney and plaintiff’s attorney representing individuals who have been injured in automobile accidents, personal injury cases and/or who have been sexually harassed or discriminated against at work.  Colella has been named a Super Lawyer in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury cases and has garnered millions of dollars in awards for clients and their families over the years.   To find out more about him, visit www.LawyersWhoWin.com.

About Rockind Law

Rockind Law is a Southfield, Michigan-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.

About Neil Rockind

Neil Rockind is a criminal defense lawyer with offices in Southfield, Michigan.  Rockind has been named a Super Lawyer, among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan, among the Top 50 Lawyers in Michigan, among the Top 10 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Michigan, among the Top 100 DUI Attorneys in the United States, the Best of Detroit by Hour Magazine, a Top Criminal Defense Lawyer by Dbusiness Magazine and among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association.  He has lectured and taught trial tactics and strategies to other lawyers and is frequent guest in the media discussing legal issues and current events.  Rockind is also the WDIV Legal Expert.

 

An Excerpt Of A Cross Examination Of A Witness Cooperating With The Prosecution

The cooperating witness has many names:  cooperator, informer, snitch, turncoat, benedict arnold, betrayer, etc.  Many lawyers are afraid to confront the cooperating witness.  A killer cross examination is necessary to undermine the reliability of the witness and at the same time, undermine the prosecution’s case.

A young lady referred to two local judges in a very derogatory fashion.  I had a tape recording of a conversation in which she had made this reference — it was a reference that was unlikely to be uttered or heard in the middle of a drunk driving case, but it turns out that it was one of the elements of a killer cross examination that helped obtain an acquittal for our client.  The case, one of the hardest that I have tried, involved the “switching seats” defense:  the claim that our client (the passenger) switched seats with the driver during the traffic stop in an effort to throw off the police.  The two were cousins.  Our client claimed to have switched seats.  When she was charged and prosecuted, she expected her cousin to come forward and tell the truth and free our client.  It did not go down that way.  Unfortunately, her cousin abandoned her.  Worse, her cousin turned on her and actually attempted to testify that she was only the passenger and that our client was indeed the driver.  The cousin was “cooperating with the prosecution.”  A killer cross examination was needed.  I delivered one.

This excerpt is a small part of the cross examination of the informant/cooperating witness in this case.  I will reveal more excerpts over the succeeding days and weeks.  Of course, you’re wondering how the derogatory reference became a part of a drunk driving trial?  Well … The witness and our client had talked on the phone about the case.  The phone call was tape recorded.  At one point, the pair discussed their judges (the cousin had an MIP).  The cousin stated that “they both sound like whores.”   A killer cross examination involves the use of wit and positioning of witnesses and so we positioned the witness to use this offensive quote.  I questioned her about respecting others and the Court.  She stated that she respected everyone, especially the Court.

Do you think that  referring to a judge as a “whore” is a sign of respect?

Read on for this and more of my cross examination of a cooperating witness in this case.

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