What is a Cross Examination?
Cross-examination is when the opposing party questions a witness during a trial.
The witness is first questioned by the party who called them to the stand during direct examination.
After that, the opposing party can question the witness during cross-examination. During the cross-examination, the opposing party may use targeted or leading questions to challenge the witness’s testimony.
The goal of cross-examination is to highlight any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the witness’s testimony and to assess their credibility.
Attorneys have different approaches when it comes to cross-examining witnesses.
Their techniques depend on the circumstances, the witness, and the testimony being examined.
Generally, there are two basic approaches to cross-examination; constructive and destructive. Constructive cross-examination involves getting the witness to say something helpful. This could include information that corroborates or contradicts other testimony or evidence.
Destructive cross-examination is meant to damage the credibility of testimony given by a witness.
There are five primary argumentative techniques in an effective cross-examination. They are:
- Making speeches
- Questioning witness involvement/knowledge
- Asking questions that begin with ‘would it surprise you…’
- Comments to the jury
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