Cross examination is the questioning of a witness by a party other than the party that called him after direct examination.
Cross examination has been described as the best tool to deducing the truth in a trail. Cross examination if properly conducted will go long way to determining the success of the party’s case. The importance of cross examination in a trial cannot be over emphasized and is indispensable. Trial without cross examination is like food without salt.
Successful cross examination is not about charisma and oratory, but about hard work and following simple tips. Preparing for cross examination is like preparing for a marathon. It is like preparing for a great task. To successfully carry out cross examination, the counsel must be abreast with the facts of the case. The more conversant the lawyer is with the facts of the case, the easier he can nail the witness to the cross of discredit.
Cross examination is like a ritual, it has a pattern which must be followed if the cross examiner desires success. For a successful cross examination, the following techniques must be observed strictly.
Three simple rules apply:
(1) Ask only leading questions
Leading questions simply state a fact with an implied question mark at the end. Questions that begin with “how,” “what,” “when,” “why,” or “where” are the hallmark of non-leading questions and should be avoided at all costs.
(2) Establish exactly one fact per question
Compound questions, such as “you saw the blue car approach the intersection on January 15”, are the enemy of clarity. This is a very useful technique .
(3) Ensure each question leads to a specific goal
Purposeless questioning is a waste of time and an opportunity for the witness to score points. Ask relevant and target oriented questions. Do not throw questions because you can, but rather throw questions because they are relevant to the success of your case.