Tag Archive for: neil rockind

A Look At Attorney James “Jim” Amberg’s Cross Examination Of An Informant

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There’s a popular saying about how there are different ways to do something.  For example,

there’s more than 1 way to skin a cat.

In essence this sayings means that there are different ways to express the same sentiment or thought:

different people have different ways to doing the same thing and both ways may be quite effective as well.

While I have developed a style of cross examination that I refer to as “Killer Cross Examination” that is based on my style, personality and approach, there are other extremely effective lawyers that cross examine a different way.  Some are extremely effective and have the results to prove it.   In other words, my approach is not the only way to “skin the proverbial cat.”   And like an artist who can appreciate the artistry of another painter’s work, I too can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship in another lawyer’s cross examination style.   Today, we take a brief look at my friend, James “Jim” Amberg’s style of cross examination by examining his cross examination of an informant, Marcus Harvey, in a drug/RICO trial.

About Jim Amberg

A bit about our subject, Jim Amberg, before we examine his cross examination style for while the words appear on the page, they gain more impact if you can picture the actual live examination.  To do that, we have to describe Jim a bit.

First, Jim is nothing if not energetic, passionate and excited.  Literally.   Jim is a bright light — from the moment you meet him until he leaves, he is full of energy.  Not angry energy mind you … but energy that is infectious and captivating .   I wouldn’t want Jim’s voice and energy to be the first thing I see and hear in the morning upon waking after a long night of drinking with little sleep but it is just the sort of energy that I’d want in someone who was leading me into battle or leading me my team onto the football field.  Jim’s demeanor and energy can get you fired up.

Second, Jim is funny.  He makes no apologies for his sarcasm but when he is sarcastic, he is so with a smile on his face rather than a sneer.  He almost appears to be enjoying his own humor.

Last, Jim is fearless.  I’ve seen him in court and he relishes the fight.

The Case – The Informant-Witness

With that as the backdrop, Jim was defending a young man who was accused of participating in a local gang that wrecked havoc in Detroit, Michigan.  This gang regularly participated in drug deals, handgun acquisitions, robberies and murder.  Each of the young men involved were accused of killing people at various times of their young lives.  One young man in particular was arrested and accused of participating in the gang organization.   He faced a sentence that would have likely resulted in his incarceration for life.  However, the young man decided to cooperate with the federal authorities and talk on others.  Despite several meeting with agents, he never once mentioned Amberg’s client.  Looking for an even more favorable deal, the witness mentioned Amberg’s client in a late, late debriefing.  Amberg sought to exploit the following on cross examination:

  • The witness’ own culpability;
  • The witness’ plea and sentence deal that would spare him a life sentence;
  • The witness’ involvement relative Amberg’s clients, i.e., that the witness was more involved yet was cooperating with the government against his relatively uninvolved client;
  • The witness’ omissions in earlier interviews;
  • The witness’ failure to mention his client immediately;
  • Contradictions between the witness’ story and the DEA reports; and,
  • The overall character of the informant.

Amberg did an excellent job demonstrating how incredible the informant-cooperating witness was when he cross examined him recently.  Here are excerpts:

Challenging The Witness’s Claims – Tying Him To A Post

I like to call this practice tethering the witness to a statement or “tying him to a post.”  The lawyer is in possession of a statement that the witness made elsewhere and has the ability to prove that the witness made the statement.  The witness is effectively tethered to it, i.e., admit it or deny at your own peril and be cross examined about it.  You tie him to the post.

If the witness denies the statement, he is impeached with 1) the fact that he is refuting his own words and 2) ultimately by the testimony of the person that took or heard the statement.  Here is an example of Amberg did that here:

Amberg - Cross Sample Page 1

Notice how Amberg actually uses “memory” and “denials” to emphasize the witness’ denial about that statements, eg, you don’t remember saying or you didn’t say, etc.  He is reminding the jurors that the witness’ claim is not believable.

Something else he does is pit the witness against the government agents or police officers.  By asking the witness questions like, “So, if Agent [so and so] put that in his report, he must have been wrong?”, he is directly forcing the witness to choose between contradicting himself or contradicting the agent.  When the witness indicated that the agent must’ve been wrong, the witness lost much credibility.  This is well done.

Here, Amberg discusses omissions with the witness.  Pointing out what a witness said is important but so is pointing out what a witness omits.  Here, despite sitting down to discuss others involved in crime as a part of a cooperation agreement, the witness never mentions Amberg’s client.  Amberg points this out by discussing the absence.

Here is another example of tethering the witness to a statement.

Amberg - Cross Sample 3

Amberg tied the witness or tethered the witness to another post — this time a tape recorded interview between the witness and the police.   When the witness acknowledges the interview, Amberg moves in for the kill to point out what the witness did and did not talk about.   As you can see, this is not the first time the witness has ducked what he told agents in those interview sessions.  First, he denies making certain statements in an interview, then testifies that the agent must’ve been wrong and now the witness is disputing a tape recording.  With each answer, Amberg is stretching the witness past the point of believability.

Humor To Finish Him Off

I am a firm believer in using humor where one can to make a point.  A laughing jury is not a hanging jury, an old saying goes.  Amberg is from the same school.

The witness has testified that money given to him was not for marijuana or pot.  He has testified to picnics, parties and barbecues however.  Amberg combines the two and the use of the word “pot” to point out the absurdity in the witness’ testimony and to convey what he thinks of it:

Amberg - Sample Cross 9

Did you see it?

so it might not have been pot money, it might have been potluck money

Amberg is finishing him off with humor.  The refusal of the witness to concede that the collected money by a group dealing drugs was for drugs/pot is silly.  There was no reason for the witness to deny this claim other than his desire to avoid admitting to more crime or his feeling that Amberg had made him look and sound untruthful.  Rather than admit it, he chose to sound even more untruthful.

Amberg gave him just enough rope for the witness to figuratively hang himself.  This too was well done.

The lesson in Amberg’s cross examination is simple:  use your own personality to challenge and cross examine witnesses.  Amberg does this well.  He uses wit, humor and smarts to force the witness to be his own worst enemy.   Amberg literally gave this witness a chance to tell the truth, i.e., “I needed more people to throw under the bus and so I picked on your client” and when the witness didn’t admit that, Amberg forced him to admit everything but …

Neil Rockind, Rockind Law
Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal Defense Attorney Rockind’s Cross Examination “Shakes Up” A Cop

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Shaken Up.  A cop reported to the officer in charge of a case that my cross examination of him “shook him up.” His description sounded like he had been “hypnotized” in a way. I kid you not!

The cross examination really shook me up.

This is one of the greatest testaments to my style of cross examination and it all happened in open court.

What happened? Here is the story:

I mentioned an exchange between a detective and me on Friday during a hearing in court. The detective was caught violating a sequestration order and was under cross examination. The following exchange (being paraphrased here until we get the transcript) occurred:

Q: you spoke with officer [name withheld]?

A: about his testimony, yes. He felt he hadn’t testified well. He felt he was misrepresented.

Q: “misrepresented”?

A: yes

Q: so he was blaming me and the questions that I asked?

A: not at all. He was blaming himself. He felt like the questions made areas that were black and white grey.

Q: he testified falsely?

A: HE WAS SHAKEN. He said that that the cross animation SHOOK HIM UP.

Q: shaken?

A: yes. I could tell that he was shaken. He said that the cross examination really shook him up. I said, “you’re normally a very competent witness. What happened?” He said, “I don’t know…”

Q: I want to follow up on this? Like I hypnotized him?

A: Mr. Rockind, you’re a very good lawyer. Your cross examination is really good. If I could, I’d have you teach a class at the police department on cross examination.
While I won’t be teaching the academy or police departments hoe to handle my questioning, I have to admit that it felt good to hear that my years of practice and focus on cross examination paid off.

While some people can learn how to cross examination, there is an art to it as well. To learn more about our firm, Rockind Law, visit Rockind Law.

Neil Rockind

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:

Sommers- Cross Blog 4

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:

sommers - Cross Blog 5

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”:

Sommers - Cross Blog 6

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.

DUI Cross: The ABC Test Is Ridiculous

For years, police officers have used the “ABC’s” or alphabet test as a means of drunk driving or intoxicated driving detection. Cops can be heard doing the following: 

Say the alphabet from A to T or say but don’t sing the alphabet. 

There is no science behind this test as a means of detecting drunk driving.  None at all.  It is unscientific and subjective: the rules change with each giving is the test.  Despite these shortcomings, some lawyers don’t know how to cross examine a police officer that still uses this test. 

Here is my killer cross examination of a police officer using this subjective test.  Pay attention to how I did the following:

  • Set up the lack of science;
  • Setup the test as subjective meaning that there are no guidelines for how to score it; and,
  • Tie that to the case. 

Here is how I did it recently:     

     
  
  

 Notice how I got the officer to concede that it was not scientific and that it was subjective and then proceeded to ask him how our client did on this “subjective” test.  By the time I concluded this section of the cross examination, I had proven that

  • The officer used an unscientific test;
  • Knew it was subjective and unscientific; and,
  • Despite the unfairness of it, our client did the test well. 

In other words, we undermined the field sobriety investigation and created doubt that our client was jntoxicated. 

Stay tuned for more examples of killer cross examinations on www.killercrossexamination.com.

Challenge The Interrogator With A Killer Cross Examination

The Reid Method works. The Reid Method is an interrogation technique developed by John Reid, a former polygraph examiner, who devised a system of interrogation that increases the likelihood that a suspect confesses. Unfortunately, like a fisherman using a tightly knitted net, the Reid Method obtains confessions of people who are innocent too.

How you might wonder? Because Reid is a form of extreme psychological manipulation. It increases the anxiety someone feels maintaining their innocence and gives the suspect relief from that anxiety by confessing. In a few hours, the Reid Technique turns people’s defense mechanism’s upside down and inside out.

Few lawyers have studied it. Few are comfortable cross examining an interrogator. I have studied confessions and interrogations and Reid. I have been hired by clients AND other lawyers to cross examine interrogators and cops.

Cornering the interrogator and exposing the technique and it’s our purpose is critical to effectively cross examine. Here are some examples:

Physical Space:

In a recent cross examination, I exposed the officer’s deliberate attempt to create an intimidating physical space for our client:

Q: you try to increase the anxiety associated with a denial and decrease the stress associated with an admission?

Q: One of the things that you do is you position yourself physically in the room?

Q: The room had no windows?

Q: It had a table against the wall?

Q: Four chairs?

Q: you directed to [the accused] to a chair?

Q: in the corner of the room?

Q: up against a wall?

Q: he didn’t choose to sit there?

Q: you directed him there?

Q: there was another chair that was on the other side of the table?

Q: yet you sat in chair closest to him?

Q: then you moved your chair to within 2 feet of him?

Q: cornering him physically?

Q: at one point, you were so close that you kicked his legs and feet?

When he tried to deny some of the details, I introduced still photographs of the proximity of the detective and our client to show how the detective positioned himself and then challenged him as to the reasons. Other than trying to make our client feel uncomfortable with someone violating his personal space, there was none. It was even better when the prosecutor objected to my standing too close to the witness, claiming that I was “badgering” him. The irony that I was doing nothing different than he did to our client was not lost on anyone. I followed it up with questions:

Q: you heard the objection?

Q: it makes it uncomfortable to have someone in your personal space like this?

Q: I’m no closer than you were to our client?

Q: In fact, here you have a judge and prosecutor to ensure that I don’t cross the line?

Q: there was no judge there during the interrogation, right?

I also compared the the room setting with the way that child witnesses are interviewed. There is a protocol for interviewing child witnesses. It includes putting them in a inviting room, not sitting too close to them, asking them direct questions, not asking them leading questions, not telling that they are lying or wrong and not trying to suggest that one answer is better than the other. The detective agreed that these were safeguards to protect against false accusations, i.e., from a witness just agreeing because of the pressure of the moment. I compared that with his setup of the interrogation of our client:

Q: you asked leading questions?

Q: you challenged him and told him that he was wrong?

Q: you challenged him and told him that he was not helping himself?

Q: you suggested what the truthful answers were?

Q: all things that you indicated could, in a child type witness, suggest an answer?

Q: all things that you indicated could pressure someone to agree just to relieve the pressure?

Again, the irony was not lost on those in the courtroom. The detective had done things that he knew in other circumstances could cause a false accusation. He did them without regard to whether they resulted in a false confession.

Given my training in the area of false confessions and interrogations, these are only a small fraction of the types of cross examination that one can do to lay the groundwork for undermining the reliability of a confession. There is much, much more. Stay tuned as I provide more details of the killer cross examination approach to undermining an interrogation and to challenging the interrogator.

Neil Rockind

“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:

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

Listen. React. Cross Examination

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. 

Killer Cross Examination Is Effective

While we normally don’t put quotes or testimonials on this website and instead reserve it for cross examination pieces and excerpts, I thought it appropriate here.  We just finished an OWI/DUI – 3rd Offense trial in which our client was acquitted.  Every one of the state’s witnesses testified “for the defense.”  How is that possible?  Killer Cross Examination.  

The client, publicly, shared her observations of the effectiveness of the style in a recent post on www.Avvo.com :

“He strategically cross examines the witnesses against you in a way that I think they even start to believe that they’re wrong for even being against you.”

Stay tuned for more cross examination tips from Neil Rockind, author of killer cross examination.

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.

“32” Questions To Get To A False Statement

After the hearing, the prosecutor attempted to pay me a compliment: “I leaned in to tell the OIC that if I were in trouble, I’d hire you.”  I accepted the compliment.  I had just finished cross examining an experienced police officer, on the force for over 15 years and an experienced witness. He was battled tested.  He wouldn’t go down easy.  But down he went. 

Trapped by my killer cross examination, he was stuck: he wrote his report without referring to an odor of marihuana in the storage shed but was now caught.  I was pushing him on the lack of an reference to an odor and he was struggling.  He knew he was caught.  He was investigating a marihuana case and entered into a storage unit with allegedly 25+ poinds in packages and he didn’t put in the report that there any odor of marihuana in the unit.   Despite admitting he put all relevant information into his reports, he hadn’t done it here.  He was now trying to find a way out.  For about 32 questions, he danced, shucked, jived, moved, ducked and dodged. Kind of like 

  
I was relentless. 

Q:  you don’t remember an odor? 
A: I’m not saying that. 
Q: you didn’t put it in your report? 
A: I wouldn’t in a marijuana case because it is obvious that there’d be a smell?
Q: that sounds like an assumption?
A: what is your question?
Q: when you say in a marihuana case it’s obvious that there’d be a smell, you’re assuming? You’re assuming that there was an odor of marihuana? 
A: I’m assuming. Correct. 
Q: you think it’s ok to assume? 
A: no. 
Q: don’t assume please… Back to the issue… you don’t recall when walking into that room that you smelled an odor of marijuana? 

A: you’re trying to trap me into a yes or a no. 
Q: officer, I’m just trying to get an answer to a question…
A: I would never put it in my report, that’s why we have the canine sniff. 
Q: but dogs can detect odors that humans cannot, correct? 

A: yes. the canine sniffed it so I wouldn’t put it down it in my report. 
Q: it’s relevant informantion, right? 
A: well, the canine sniffed it. 
Q: it’s relevant information given your earlier acknowledgment that where there is no odor, a person in the area might not know that marijuana is nearby?

A: I wouldn’t say that I didn’t smell it. 
Q: you’ve had other cases? 
A: before and after. 
Q: there was no odor, that’s why it’s not in your report? 
A: that’s a different question. 

And so it went until the very end of my cross where he decided to jump in with both feet:  he claimed to smell an odor of marihuana in the room.  32 questions later! 

My last question summed it up: 

Q:  were you sitting in the gallery, you wouldn’t think a witness testifying similarly was credible, right? 

Of course the prosecution objected but we all knew the answer.  It was not credible.