Make-up class, Trial Law & Procedure. The form of interrogation on cross-examination.

Recall the rules of direct examination -- examination must be in a question & answer format.

1) The lawyer asks questions (no narratives)

2) The substantive evidence comes from the witnesses (no leading, assuming facts, or misstating the evidence)

3) Questions must be clear (not compound, vague, or ambiguous)

4) Repetition is frowned on (each attorney may ask each withness each question only once).

Same concepts apply to cross-examination, with some modifications. Interrogation must still be by question and answer format, but the implications are different.

1) Questions are required. On cross that means you must use questions to seek answers, not make arguments. The usual objection is that the attorney is being argumentative. E.g.:

-- No speeches, e.g., "Would it surprise you to know that the victim had a substantial blood alcohol level that day?" "Did you know that the defendant injected people with drugs and performed abortions on women?"

-- No summarizing. "You're telling this jury you can recognize a man wearing a beard and moustache 5 years after seeing him, when you saw him before only as a boy?"

-- No inferring. "If the lawyers can't figure out how she wanted to dispose of her property, how do you suppose she was mentally competent?"

-- No commenting on credibility of witnesses. "The truth is that you have no recollection, do you?"

-- No sarcastic remarks, whether or not phrased as questions. "Surely you know what a beard is?"

--generally referred to as being "argumentative"

2) The evidence comes from the witness.

-- Leading questions, which were prohibited during direct examination, are usually allowed because oif the absence of opportunity to prepr the witness.

-- But contrary to what you see on TV, questionscannot be misleading, assume facts not in evidence, or try to trick the witness.

3) Clear questions are still required (not compound, vague, ambiguous)

4) Repetition is permitted as long as it is still seeking evidence. You can "sift" the witness -- repeat questions from several angles to try to expose lying, but cannot "badger" witness about an answer you don't like -- example:

Q: Was Xdrunk? A: I dont know.

Q: You don't know if Xwas drunk or not? A: Tat's right, I don't know.

Q: Tell the truth. Werent you all drunk?

Part 1: From the Movie "The Verdict." Paul Newman calls Katelyn Costello Price, the admitting nurse at the hospital where the plaintiff suffered brain damage, and conducts this direct examination:

Q: Katelyn Price. You were the admitting nurse at St. Katherine Labrey Hospital, May 12, 1976, the night that they admitted Deborah Ann Kay.

A: Yes.

Q: Did you sign this admission form?

A: Yes.

Q: Those are your initials, KC?

A: Katelyn Costello. That's my maiden name.

Q: Did you ask the patient, when did she last eat?

A: Yes.

Q: What did she say?

A: She had said she had had a full meal one hour before coming to the hospital.

Q: One hour?

A: Yes.

Q: And did you put the numeral one on the admission slip, I mean standing for one hour?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: A single hour?

A: Yes.

Q: Thank you. Your witness.

The Cross examination by the Defense follows. Your task is to go through it and note every improper question by the attorney.

(1) Q: You are aware of the penalties for perjury?

A: It's a crime. . .

(2) Q: A serious crime.

A: I wouldn't do it.

(3) Q: You would not?

A: No.

(4) Q: In fact you've just taken an oath haven't you? You've just sworn to it, isn't that right?

A: Yes.

(5) Q: Just now?

A: Yes.

(6) Q: You have sworn before God that you would tell the truth?

A: Yes.

(7) Q: Now, I want to ask you something. Four years ago, when you were working as a nurse, are you aware that these doctors, Marks and Towler, based their treatment of Deborah Ann Kay on this admitting form which you signed?

A: I. . .

(9) Q: Wasn't that an oath, these are your initials, KC? When you signed this form, you took an oath, no less important than which you have taken today, isn't that right? Isn't that right?

A: Yes.

(10) Q: Then which is correct? You have sworn today that the patient ate one hour before admittance, four years ago, you swore that she ate nine hours before admittance. Alright, which is the lie?

A: I. . .

(11) Q: You know that these men could have settled out of court, they wanted a trial, they wanted to clear their names. And you would come here and on a slip of memory, you'd ruin their lives.

A: They lied.

(12) Q: They lied? When did they lie? Do you know what a lie is?

A: I do yes.

(13) Q: You swore on a form that the patient ate nine hours. . .

A: That's not what I wrote.

(14) Q: You just told me that you signed it?

A: Yes, I signed it, yes. But I didn't write a nine, I wrote a one.

(15) Q: You didn't write a nine, you wrote a one ---- and how is it that you remember so clearly after all these years?

A: Because I kept a copy, I have it right here.

(16) Q: What in the world induced you to make a photocopy and hold it for four years. . . .Why, Why, Why would you do that?

A: I thought I might need it.

(17) Q: And why would you think that?

A: After the operation, when that poor girl, she went into a coma, Dr. Towler called me in. He told me that he had had five (5) difficult deliveries in a row and he was tired and he never looked at the admittance form and he told me to change the form, he told me to change the one (1) to a nine (9) or else, or else, he said he would fire me, he said I would never work again. Who were these men? Who were these men?

Q: No further questions your honor.

When you are done, click here for the "answers."