As I promised, we would share more than just cross examination excerpts from my (Neil Rockind’s) cases. Where another lawyer thought that he/she had some interesting cross examination, I would welcome their submission and comment on it. Victor Balta, a personal injury associate attorney with Moss & Colella, PC, a personal injury and police brutality oriented firm in Southfield, Michigan, has done just that.
In a recent case invoking a slip and fall, one of the most decimated and difficult areas to practicing in given the Court’s hostility towards injured citizens, Balta used the witness’s testimony he was cross examining in order to attempt to establish that his client did have reason to look down at the sidewalk, the typical so-call, Open and Obvious defense. Courts have been suggesting that you should look at your feet while walking instead of looking ahead — you may walk into traffic or others doing the latter (head down eyes to the ground) but the Court apparently thinks this is safer way to walk. Most of the free world disagrees.
In this excerpt, Balta cross examined the opponent’s witness on this absurdity and then transferred that witness’ testimony to his own client — a cleaver and effective way to get the opponent to support your client’s position. Here is the excerpt:
Q. Is it fair to say that during the date of the incident, that you walked on the sidewalk a couple times?
A. More than a couple, yes.
Q. Did you ever notice anything on the sidewalk that led you to believe that you needed to be careful or avoid certain spots of the sidewalk?
Q. In your own personal opinion, are there any defective spots in the sidewalk that my client missed or should have avoided?
[Defense attorney]: Objection, form and foundation.
BY [Plaintiff attorney]: Q. No, there’s no spots that [client] should have avoided, just to be clear?
From here, by taking the witness’ experience, Balta was able to tie it right to his client helping in establishing that the Open and Obvious is going to fail.. The opponent didn’t see anything and neither should have nor would have seen anything. It was undetectable defect that caused Balta’s client serious injury.
What’s the lesson? When conducting a killer cross examination, you don’t have to rely solely on our own witnesses in building your case. Testimony from the opponent that supports your position or undermines the opponents. Balta did just that here. Well, Victor Balta, well done.
Victor Balta is an attorney with Moss & Colella, a personal injury and police brutality law firm in Southfield, Michigan. Moss & Colella is to many fine lawyers including Super Lawyers Vince Colella and David Moss. They can be reached at 248.945.0100 or at www.mosscolella.com or www.lawyerswhowin.com or www.detroitcivilrights.com If you want to contact Balta directly about this post or others contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.lawyerswhowin.com.