(1) Q: You are aware of the penalties for perjury?
Argumentative -- rhetorical questions are improper.
(2) Q: A serious crime.
Argumentative -- not a question at all. The lawyer is commenting on the evidence.
(3) Q: You would not?
Permissible question -- rule against repetitive questions does not apply to cross-examination.
(4) Q: In fact you've just taken an oath haven't you? You've just sworn to it, isn't that right?
Argumentative -- rhetorical.
(5) & (6) Q: Just now? -- You have sworn before God that you would tell the truth?
Badgering. Although some repetition is permitted, this is repetition designed to intimidate and browbeat the witness.
(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?
Compound -- asks both if she knew they based their treatment on the form and whether she signed it..
(8)-(9) A: I. . . 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?
Where to begin? First, the attorney does not permit the witness to answer the previous question. Second, the question is compound. Third, it's argumentative
-- the lawyer is making a speech on the importance of getting the form right, not asking a question.
(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?
Argumentative -- repetitious summarization of testimony for rhetorical purposes. It also assumes a fact not in evidence, namely that she ever swore to the
nin-hour figure. It misstates her direct examination, in which she clearly testified she put a "1", not a "9," on the form.
(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.
Argumentative -- lawyer is making a speech, clearly not caring what the witness says. Also assumes facts not in evidence about settling the case. For you
evidence fans, this question also violates Rule 408.
(12) Q: They lied? When did they lie? Do you know what a lie is?
Compound. Also argumentative -- asking competent adult witness is they know what a lie is is rhetorical and sarcastic.
(13) Q: You swore on a form that the patient ate nine hours. . .
Argumentative because not a question, just a comment. Assumes a fact not in evidence, namely that she ever swore to the nin-hour figure. It misstates her
direct examination, in which she clearly testified she put a "1", not a "9," on the form.
(14) Q: You just told me that you signed it?
Okay -- repetition allowed on cross.
(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?
Borderline -- It's sarcastic and argumentative, since he's really suggesting that no one could remember such a trivial incident, but the question also seeks
(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?
Legitimate question, but illustrates the danger of a non-leading question asking a witness on cross-examination to explain a weakness.
Click here for another example cross-examination.